Remarks With Republic of Korea Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se Before Their Meeting
Secretary of State
Seoul, South Korea
May 18, 2015
FOREIGN MINISTER BYUNG-SE: Well, John, I do wish to welcome you and your delegation to my ministry. Last night we had very good discussions over dinner, followed this morning by (inaudible). But the fact that you have taken out of your time to be in Korea at this critical juncture is in itself a very powerful message of this relation between our two governments and of the commitment with the Korea-U.S. alliance. And yes, it's true that our alliance is at its best state ever, but that does not mean there isn't anything more to do. That's why we have been working hard together to take our alliance – take our alliance to the next stage. In this regard, the culmination of our joint efforts will be President Park's forthcoming visit to the United States in June.
For the sake of laying the groundwork for a successful visit, I'm looking forward to in that discussions of the realities our alliance faces (inaudible) in the region and around the world. Our priority will be North Korea. Internally, (inaudible) is fueling concerns about (inaudible). Externally, these threats are as serious as ever, as we saw with this recent SLBM – this exercise.
Our experience over the course of the conflict is showing us that when it comes to North Korea, there may be no silver bullet, but with a robust deterrence, strong pressure and well-coordinated diplomacy, we stand ready and prepared.
Of course, our alliance is (inaudible) peace and security, not just for the Korean Peninsula, but also for the wider region. So as allies, our continuing task will be to seize this past momentum and explore further ways to enhance cooperation in this region.
Last but not least, on global issues, we have been joining hands to meet the challenges. It's (inaudible) this year, cooperation on climate change, global health, and the post-2015 development agenda on (inaudible).
This is already (inaudible), but as always, it's a real pleasure to see my good friend. I look forward to our discussions. Thank you very much.
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, Mr. Foreign Minister Byung-se, my friend, I want to thank you for first of all your generous welcome, and thank you for a terrific dinner last night with a very in-depth and comprehensive discussion of global challenges that we face together. Let me – I look forward to the discussion we're going to have now, and then I think we'll have a chance to meet with the press again.
But let me just say this: The U.S.-Republic of Korea alliance has literally never been stronger. This is a strong alliance in which we are cooperating on so many different issues. You've been helpful on counter-Daesh, counter-ISIL; helpful on countering violent extremism; working with us on Syria; working on Ebola and global challenges; humanitarian assistance. And locally, obviously, we are united firmly in our determination to stand up against any threats from the DPRK, which obviously, with its recent behavior, has indicated even greater unwillingness to be reasonable and come to the table to talk about denuclearization.
We also have other challenges in the region and we look forward to talking about those together, as we always have. We have significant accomplishments that we've already achieved – the 123 Agreement, the continued cooperation on the operational control issues for the long-term future of our security.
So this is a real alliance, and it's a real alliance that is as strong as it's ever been, and I look forward to conversing with you, and then we'll have a chance to share some other thoughts with the press afterwards. Thank you. Thanks for the welcome.
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