Yesterday, President Park visited Arlington National Cemetery and our memorial to our Korean War veterans. Tonight, she’s hosting a dinner to pay tribute to the generation of American veterans who have served in the defense of South Korea. And tomorrow she’ll address a joint session of Congress -- an honor that is reserved for our closest of friends.
And in this sense, this visit also reflects South Korea’s extraordinary progress over these six decades. From the ashes of war, to one of the world’s largest economies; from a recipient of foreign aid to a donor that now helps other nations develop. And of course, around the world, people are being swept up by Korean culture -- the Korean Wave. And as I mentioned to President Park, my daughters have taught me a pretty good Gangnam Style. (Laughter.)
President Park, in your first months in office South Korea has faced threats and provocations that would test any nation. Yet you’ve displayed calm and steady resolve that has defined your life. Like people around the world, those of us in the United States have also been inspired by your example as the first female President of South Korea. And today I’ve come to appreciate the leadership qualities for which you are known -- your focus and discipline and straight-forwardness. And I very much thank you for the progress that we’ve already made together.
Today, we agreed to continue the implementation of our historic trade agreement, which is already yielding benefits for both our countries. On our side, we’re selling more exports to Korea -- more manufactured goods, more services, more agricultural products. Even as we have a long way to go, our automobile exports are up nearly 50 percent, and our Big Three -- Ford, Chrysler and GM -- are selling more cars in Korea. And as President Park and I agreed to make sure that we continue to fully implement this agreement, we believe that it’s going to make both of our economies more competitive. It will boost U.S. exports by some $10 billion and support tens of thousands of American jobs. And obviously it will be creating jobs in Korea as they are able to continue to do extraordinary work in expanding their economy and moving it further and further up the value chain.
We agreed to continue the clean energy partnerships that help us to enhance our energy security and address climate change. Given the importance of a peaceful nuclear energy industry to South Korea, we recently agreed to extend the existing civilian nuclear agreement between our two countries -- but we also emphasized in our discussions the need to continue to work diligently towards a new agreement. As I told the President, I believe that we can find a way to support South Korea’s energy and commercial needs even as we uphold our mutual commitments to prevent nuclear proliferation.
We agreed to continuing modernizing our security alliance. Guided by our joint vision, we’re investing in the shared capabilities and technologies and missile defenses that allow our forces to operate and succeed together. We are on track for South Korea to assume operational control for the alliance in 2015. And we’re determined to be fully prepared for any challenge or threat to our security. And obviously that includes the threat from North Korea.
If Pyongyang thought its recent threats would drive a wedge between South Korea and the United States, or somehow garner the North international respect, today is further evidence that North Korea has failed again. President Park and South Koreans have stood firm, with confidence and resolve. The United States and the Republic of Korea are as united as ever. And faced with new international sanctions, North Korea is more isolated than ever. In short, the days when North Korea could create a crisis and elicit concessions -- those days are over.
Our two nations are prepared to engage with North Korea diplomatically and, over time, build trust. But as always -- and as President Park has made clear -- the burden is on Pyongyang to take meaningful steps to abide by its commitments and obligations, particularly the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
And we discussed that Pyongyang should take notice of events in countries like Burma, which, as it reforms, is seeing more trade and investment and diplomatic ties with the world, including the United States and South Korea.
For our part, we’ll continue to coordinate closely with South Korea and with Japan. And I want to make clear the United States is fully prepared and capable of defending ourselves and our allies with the full range of capabilities available, including the deterrence provided by our conventional and nuclear forces. As I said in Seoul last year, the commitment of the United States to the security of the Republic of Korea will never waver.
More broadly, we agreed to continue expanding our cooperation globally. In Afghanistan -- where our troops serve together and where South Korea is a major donor of development assistance -- we’re on track to complete the transition to Afghan-led operations by the end of next year. We discussed Syria, where both our nations are working to strengthen the opposition and plan for a Syria without Bashar Assad. And I’m pleased that our two nations -- and our Peace Corps -- have agreed to expand our efforts to promote development around the world.
Finally, we’re expanding the already strong ties between our young people. As an engineer by training, President Park knows the importance of education. Madam President, you’ve said -- and I'm quoting you -- “We live in an age where a single individual can raise the value of an entire nation.” I could not agree more. So I’m pleased that we’re renewing exchange programs that bring our students together. And as we pursue common-sense immigration reform here in the United States, we want to make it easier for foreign entrepreneurs and foreign graduate students from countries like Korea to stay and contribute to our country, just as so many Korean Americans already do.
So, again, thank you, President Park, for making the United States your first foreign trip. In your inaugural address you celebrated the “can do” spirit of the Korean people. That is a spirit that we share. And after our meeting today, I’m confident that if our two nations continue to stand together, there’s nothing we cannot do together.
So, Madam President, welcome to the United States.
PRESIDENT PARK: (As interpreted.) Let me start by thanking President Obama for his invitation and his gracious hospitality.
During my meeting with the President today, I was able to have a heart-to-heart talk with him on a wide range of common interests. I found that the two us of have a broad common view about the vision and roles that should guide the Korea-U.S. alliance as it moves forward, and I was delighted to see this.
First of all, the President and I shared the view that the Korea-U.S. alliance has been faithfully carrying out its role as a bulwark of peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia, and that the alliance should continue to serve as a linchpin for peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in Asia. In this regard, I believe it is significant that the joint declaration on the 60th anniversary of our alliance we adopted spells out the direction that our comprehensive strategic alliance should take.
Next, the President and I reaffirmed that we will by no means tolerate North Korea’s threats and provocations, which have recently been escalating further, and that such actions would only deepen North Korea’s isolation. The President and I noted that it is important that we continue to strengthen our deterrence against North Korea’s nuclear and conventional weapons threat, and shared the view that in this respect, the transition of wartime operational control should also proceed in a way that strengthens our combined defense capabilities and preparations being made toward that way as well.
We also shared the view that realizing President Obama’s vision of a world without nuclear weapons should start on the Korean Peninsula and we stated that we would continue to strongly urge North Korea, in close concert with the other members of the Six-Party talks and the international community, to faithfully abide by its international obligations under the September 19th Joint Statement and the relevant Security Council resolutions.
Korea and the U.S. will work jointly to induce North Korea to make the right choice through multifaceted efforts, including the implementation of the Korean Peninsula trust-building process that I had spelled out.
I take this opportunity to once again send a clear message: North Korea will not be able to survive if it only clings to developing its nuclear weapons at the expense of its people’s happiness. Concurrently pursuing nuclear arsenals and economic development can by no means succeed.
This is the shared view of the view of the other members of the Six-Party talks and the international community. However, should North Korea choose the path to becoming a responsible member of the community of nations, we are willing to provide assistance, together with the international community.
We also had meaningful discussions on the economy and ways to engage in substantive cooperation. The President and I welcome the fact that the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, which went into effect one year ago, is contributing to our shared prosperity. We also said we will make efforts to enable our people to better feel the benefits of our free trade agreement for them.
I highlighted the importance of securing high-skilled U.S. work visas for Korean citizens, and asked for executive branch support to the extent possible to see to it that the relevant legislation is passed in the U.S. Congress.
Moreover, we arrived at the view that the Korea-U.S. Civil Nuclear Energy Cooperation Agreement should be revised into an advanced and mutually beneficial successor agreement. We said we would do our best to conclude our negotiations as soon as possible.
The President and I also had in-depth discussions on ways to enhance our global partnership. First, we noted together that Northeast Asia needs to move beyond conflict and divisions and open a new era of peace and cooperation, and that there would be synergy between President's Obama's policy of rebalancing to Asia and my initiative for peace and cooperation in Northeast Asia as we pursue peace and development in the region. We shared the view about playing the role of co-architects to flesh out this vision.
Furthermore, we decided that the Korea-U.S. alliance should deal not just with challenges relating to the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia, but confronting the broader international community.
I am very delighted that I was able to build personal trust with President Obama through our summit meeting today, and to have laid a framework for cooperation.
Join the conversation and post your thoughts in the comments! Read the 1461 Comment Guidelines.
1461 is read by over 1.2 Million People and growing Daily! Help the 1461 continue to Grow and spread the truth - invite your friends and family to join the 1461 and learn the truth rather than BS!
Join our Facebook page by clicking here!