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U.S. Department of State - Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Preview of the visit of Republic of Korea President Park Geun-hye

Daniel R. Russel
   Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Mark Lippert
   Ambassador to South Korea

National Security Council Senior Director for Asian Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink
Washington, DC
October 14, 2015




3:45 P.M. EDT

THE WASHINGTON FOREIGN PRESS CENTER, WASHINGTON, D.C.

MR ZIMMER: Good afternoon. Welcome to the Foreign Press Center. We’re very pleased to have you with us today. My name is Mark Zimmer. I’m a Media Relations Officer here. The presentation today is a preview of the visit of the Republic of Korea President Park. We’re very pleased to have with us National Security Council Senior Director for Asian Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel, and United States Ambassador to the Republic of Korea Mark Lippert. Each of them will make an opening statement and then we’ll open it up for questions. We have approximately one hour. Thank you again for joining us.

Mr. Kritenbrink.

MR KRITENBRINK: Great. Good afternoon, everyone. It’s great to see you all again. It’s great to be back here at the Foreign Press Center.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MR KRITENBRINK: Excuse me?

MR RUSSEL: Not you. Go ahead.

MR KRITENBRINK: Okay, thanks. At any rate, it’s great to be back here at the Foreign Press Center, and I’m particularly honored to be here to speak with you today about President Park Geun-hye’s October 16th official working visit to Washington, D.C. I’m also honored to be joined here today by two of America’s finest diplomats, Assistant Secretary Danny Russel and Ambassador Mark Lippert.

So our plan today is for me to give you a brief overview of President Park’s visit to talk about the schedule and some of the general themes and our goals. I’ll then ask Assistant Secretary Russel to provide a sense of how our alliance with the ROK fits into our broader regional and global strategy. And then Ambassador Lippert will provide an on-the-ground perspective of our alliance and explain some of the new frontier issues. Then we’ll move to Qs and As.

So, first a bit on President Park’s schedule. President Park arrived yesterday, late yesterday afternoon, October 13. I was honored to be one of the officials out at Joint Base Andrews to greet her. We’re very excited that President Park will have a robust schedule of engagements both today, tomorrow, [and] Friday, including a lunch tomorrow hosted by the Vice President at his residence. And I understand that President Park is the first Asian leader that the Vice President has hosted at the Naval Observatory this year.

President Obama will host President Park at the White House on October 16th, and her White House program will consist of a bilateral meeting in the Oval Office followed by a working lunch and then a press conference in the East Room.

So having gone through the schedule, I just want to provide a few general comments on how we view the visit. First, to put the visit in context, this is the fourth major visit to the White House by an Asian leader in 2015. President Obama received Japanese Prime Minister Abe in April, Vietnamese General-Secretary Truong in July, and of course, Chinese President Xi just a few weeks ago in September. And later this month, we’ll welcome Indonesian President Widodo. This is a sign that our Rebalance to the Asia Pacific is alive and well.

And of course, we’ve had very intensive engagement with the Republic of Korea, as well. We’ve been very much looking forward to President Park’s visit for some time. As you know, earlier this year President Park was forced to postpone her visit, originally scheduled for June, because of the outbreak of MERS in Korea. We certainly understood the reasons for the postponement, and we’re delighted that we’ve been able to reschedule the visit for this year.

The President eagerly looks forward to welcoming President Park back to the White House on Friday. It’s, of course, not her first time there. President Obama was honored when President Park made Washington her first foreign destination after taking office in 2013. Her visit at that time was historic as we celebrated the 60th anniversary of our alliance.

Since then, President Obama has met with President Park during his visit to Seoul in April 2014, and our two presidents have had a number of meetings on the sidelines of multilateral meetings around the globe. This, coupled with the fact that President Obama has visited Korea more times than any other Asian country during his presidency, is an excellent indicator of just how much the President values the U.S.-ROK alliance. It’s often been said that our alliance and partnership has never been stronger, and I can say with confidence today that’s an absolutely true statement.

Just a few comments on our goals for the visit. I think during the meeting – the meetings and the working lunch on Friday, we’ll seek to enhance our already robust alliance cooperation through discussion of what we call foundational issues. Chief among those, of course, is the U.S.-ROK military alliance, which, in its 62nd year, is stronger than ever. Our commitment to the defense of the Republic of Korea remains unwavering. It goes without saying that our open societies and commitment to democracy and a market economy provide the solid foundations of our alliance and our deep friendship with the South Korean people, which was forged in the crucible of war.

We’ll highlight the work we’ve done over the past year to enhance capabilities and make additional investments in our armed forces that ensures it continues to grow in strength. And we’ll, of course, seek to coordinate closely on issues of mutual interest and concern. North Korea, of course, will be at the top of the agenda. We will reaffirm our commitment to the complete verifiable denuclearization of the DPRK. We’ll discuss ways to bring North Korea back to serious and meaningful denuclearization talks. We’ll call on North Korea to abide by its obligations and commitments in the September 2015 Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks, and we’ll also call on North Korea not to take any actions that violate UN Security resolutions or escalate tensions. President Obama will be eager to hear from President Park on the latest on inter-Korean developments and express support for President Park’s efforts to improve South-North relations.

Also among these foundational issues that we’ll discuss is our dynamic economic and trade relationship, which we also seek to deepen and strengthen during President Park’s visit. Beyond our cooperation on North Korea, we’ll also seek to further expand our dynamic global partnership. Over the past year, we’ve forged – we have worked together to counter the menace of ISIL, provided humanitarian assistance to Syrian refugees and to the Ukrainian people. We have plans to do even more together around the world.

And finally, we’ll seek to set the course for the future of our relationship through cooperation on a range of new issues that we call new frontier issues, including matters of increasing importance in the 21st century, such as global health, cyber security, climate change, energy, space cooperation. And I will ask Ambassador Lippert to expand on those issues in just a moment. And of course, we’ll seek ways to highlight the longstanding important and growing ties between our two peoples.

So with that, I’ll end my opening remarks here, and I’d now like to turn to my colleague and good friend Assistant Secretary Russel to discuss how the Republic of Korea fits into our broader regional and global strategy.

Dan?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: Thanks very much, Dan. Let me start by offering a little bit of context and little bit of history. I talk a lot about the Rebalance and I’m accustomed now to hear from others that they think that the U.S. Rebalance policy began with President Obama’s 2011 speech to the Australian parliament in Canberra. But the fact of the matter is that’s not true. The Rebalance started the day that President Obama took office on January 20th, 2009, and if you don’t believe me ask Ambassador Lippert. He was not only there; he was running NSC and much of the White House at the beginning of the Administration.

In the first six months of the Administration in 2009, President Obama hosted three key Asian allies in the Oval Office – the prime minister of Japan, the prime minister of Australia – in February and March respectively – and then the then-president of the Republic of Korea. The ROK was and is front and center in America’s Rebalance to the Asia Pacific region. Fast forward past the President’s visit to Seoul later in 2009; past the three visits – three additional visits that he’s made to Korea since then; to President – former-President Lee’s state visit here in 2011; or President Park’s own visit here in 2013; Vice President Biden’s multiple visits to Korea; or the many meetings that the U.S. and the ROK’s presidents have had on the margins of multilateral meetings, including importantly the trilateral summit that President Obama hosted in The Hague and, of course, the many other trilateral meetings with Japan that have been hosted at ministerial level.

Here we are now in 2015. And in 2015, in a span of just six months, the leaders of the three major northeast Asian countries have visited or are about to visit Washington, D.C. to meet with President Obama. This is no accident. In addition to the other visitors from elsewhere in Asia over the course of 2015, President Obama, of course, will be meeting with President Park and other leaders at APEC, at the G20, at the East Asia Summit, and I know that these upcoming consultations with President Park create an opportunity to tighten our coordination.

So what does all this mean, these visits in aggregate? Well, first it means that the Rebalance is going strong, that there is sustained U.S. engagement, sustained U.S. investment in the Asia Pacific region and in the relationships with the people, the nations, and the leaders of the countries there. It also means that America’s alliances, including and especially the U.S.-ROK alliance, continue to provide important stability in a volatile world. These alliances maintain peace on a peninsula that’s tragically divided, and that’s threatened by North Korea’s provocative behavior and its illicit nuclear and ballistic missile programs. This, clearly, too will be a focus of the discussions.

I think it means also that with the successful conclusion of the TPP, which knits together 40 percent of global GDP, and was, I think, importantly helped by our success not only in negotiating the KORUS FTA but in implementing the KORUS FTA, that we have a framework for global growth and for jobs throughout the region.

I think it means, importantly, that the United States has a network of immensely capable partners like the ROK in dealing with global issues and global challenges like climate, like cyber, like communicable disease, like proliferation, terrorism, humanitarian assistance or relief, sustainable development.

And lastly, I think it means that the strong bipartisan support and the strong public support both in the United States and in the ROK for our alliance and for the Rebalance ensures that this region will remain an important American strategic priority, and that the region can continue to count on the United States.

Lastly, I would just say that I know that it means a great deal that President Obama chose a close friend and one of his closest and most trusted aides to serve as his representative and as America’s ambassador to the Republic of Korea, Mark Lippert.

AMBASSADOR LIPPERT: Thanks, Danny. I really don’t have much to add to what Dan and Danny said. They really covered the landscape well. At the risk of being a little redundant, let me just make a couple of very brief and quick points.

First, as Dan and Danny both alluded to, the relationship is incredibly strong. It’s in very good shape. And in fact, I think one can make an incredible case that it’s – the alliance is in the best shape it’s ever been.

Why do I say that? I use usually a three-pronged test for this. First, we are doing unbelievably complicated things together, from Ebola in West Africa to the civil nuclear agreement to OPCON transition to deterring North Korean provocation. These are hard, difficult things that we are doing together that are increasingly complex.

Second, we are doing them well. We are getting to good outcomes. We are getting to good policy outcomes and good public affairs outcomes as well. We were able to contain Ebola in West Africa. We reached conclusion on the civil nuclear deal. We deterred North Korean provocation successfully. And we managed the OPCON transition, I think, in a very smooth and successful manner.

And even with the fact that we’re doing hard, complicated, difficult thing together, as Danny mentioned, the alliance is incredibly popular. And that’s very important in democratic societies. That democratic foundation gives our governments, gives our leaders the credibility, the space to do even more complex, difficult, and great things together. So that’s – we’re sort of in this virtuous cycle at this point in time, and that’s a good thing.

Just about the visit, just to a little bit reiterate what Dan said, I think three main objectives: First, I think strengthening the interpersonal relations between the two leaders, which is already quite good, and knowing the President, President Obama well and getting to know President Park a little bit when I’ve been on the peninsula, especially when she came to visit me in the hospital, I can see why the two leaders like each other and get along well. They’re both extremely substantive, they’re both extremely insightful, and I see why the personal chemistry works. And that has good trickle-down effects in every part of the relationship.

Second, as Dan mentioned, we’re going to have a robust discussion. I anticipate a robust discussion between the two leaders on the foundational issues – North Korea, the economy, the global partnership. I won’t belabor them here; Dan outlined them well, and Danny did, as well.

And finally, because the relationship is in such good shape, because it is maturing, because there is additional bandwidth, and because our two peoples strongly support the relationships, we are able to do new things. And I think what the presidents feel that a very important outcome of the summit is to set the strategic direction of the relationship for the next five or ten years. And that’s adding on what we’re calling, as Dan mentioned, the new frontiers – cyber, space, energy, environment, and global health. And these are issues that are increasingly salient in the 21st century. They’re bilateral, they’re multilateral, they’re global issues, they’re cross-cutting issues. They’re issues that both of our peoples have deep expertise on, so we can tap into the talents that are already on the peninsula. And finally, we’ve done some good work in many of these areas together that has laid a good baseline. And the point is then with the strategic vision of our two leaders, with the talents of our two peoples, we are able to build the alliance and keep it modern, dynamic, and innovative well into the 21st century.

So I’ll stop there and be prepared for questions.

MR ZIMMER: Thank you. We’ll move into questions and answers now. Please identify yourself and your outlet. Please keep your questions as brief as possible. If colleagues in New York have a question, they’ll step to the podium and we’ll address them.

Let’s start in the front, please. Please identify if you’re addressing a particular briefer.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. Bingru Wang with Hong Kong Phoenix TV. I’m going to throw out a China question first. Is there any anxiety in this Administration that you would like to hear from President Park to explain the closer tie between South Korea and China? If not, have you already reached a consensus or understanding on this subject?

And secondly, are you going to persuade South Korea to come out and take a position on freedom of navigation and also conduct activities based on rule of law, just as Australia and the U.S. did yesterday? Thank you.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: Thanks. Well, I’ll begin by saying that the United States has long supported the improvement in relations between Seoul and Beijing. And speaking personally, I’m proud that in my career back in the early ’90s at the UN I had a small hand in fostering the normalization of relations between the ROK and China. But today in the 21st century and 2015, it’s more important than ever that not only for economic reasons but for strategic reasons as well the Republic of Korea and the People’s Republic of China have a robust relationship and dialogue.

The Republic of Korea is a strong democracy. The Republic of Korea is a free market economy. The Republic of Korea is a friend and an ally of the United States. We have no qualms, we have no trepidation about more contact and more high-level dialogue between our ally and friend and an important neighbor, and frankly, an important regional actor: China. Moreover, the visit by President Xi to Seoul, as I’ve said many times, marked, I think, a historic turning point in terms of the prospects for the future of the Korean peninsula. It is a good thing for the leaders of China to hear directly from another democratically – from a democratically elected president in a neighboring country. And given the span and scope of the ROK’s interests in Northeast Asia and beyond, it makes perfect sense for that relationship to flourish.

With regard to freedom of navigation, I’d cast my memory back to the declaration by China of an air defense identification zone in the East China Sea to which the ROK responded appropriately, vigorously, and in concert with international law.

Freedom of navigation isn’t an American issue, it’s not a China issue; it’s a global issue. It’s not an American right or Australian right, it’s a universal right. And all nations, and particularly all nations that are as dependent on the sanctity of the sea lanes, have an interest in protecting that.

MR KRITENBRINK: I think that’s exceptionally well said. And could I just add maybe just two points? One, just to reinforce what Danny said quite eloquently, we do not see these issues in zero-sum terms. We encourage all countries in the region to have a constructive relationship with China. As you know, we just recently hosted President Xi Jinping here in Washington for a state visit and we too pursue and have a constructive relationship with China, yet it’s a relationship that’s quite complex as well. So as Danny said, we encourage, whether it’s the Republic of Korea or other friends and allies or other partners in the region, we encourage them all to work to have constructive relations with China.

And on that – the South China Sea – completely agree with what Danny said. Again, I think our objective here is to support and sustain the rules-based international order, including in East Asia. And I think international maritime law is one of those issues, and we expect all countries who have an interest in stability, freedom of navigation, and freedom of commerce to support that rules-based international order.

MR ZIMMER: Let’s go to the front here, please.

QUESTION: Thank you so much for doing this. Atsushi Okudera from Asahi Shimbun. First of all, about TPP – as one of you mentioned, TPP is also one of the top priorities of the U.S. Administration on Rebalance to Asia. So this time there’s President Obama encourage President Park to join TPP directly in this summit. Do you have any perspective when it’s the right time, ROK is going to join this trade agreement?

And one more quick things about Japan-ROK relations. As everybody knows, trilateral meeting – Japan-China-ROK summit – is scheduled later this month or early next month. So this time, what kind of role will President Obama play in the summit, and what kind of message President Park and President Obama send to the world to enhance regional cooperation or to improve these two countries’ relations? Thanks so much.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: Well, I guess I’ll begin. I won’t try to correct some of the statements that are embedded in your question with regard to TPP, but I’d like to make clear that there is now an agreement among 12 member countries in TPP that must go through their respective national processes – in our case, through a period of public comment and congressional deliberation and a vote. That is what has to happen now. So the understandable focus of our governments and our trade negotiators is, having been successful in persuading one another to embrace compromise, now to be successful in persuading our respective legislatures to endorse that. That’s the job at hand.

Now, President Park has indicated an interest in TPP, which is understandable for an economy of the scope and modernity as Korea’s, and President Obama has welcomed that interest. But the job at hand is completing the processes regarding TPP. The issue of additional negotiating partners lies beyond that.

On the subject of the trilateral summit to be held in a few weeks in Seoul, I would say that we welcome that. We see that as an opportunity for enhanced consultation among the three major powers in Northeast Asia. It’s clearly an opportunity not only for the three countries to discuss their trilateral free trade agreement, which is an ongoing topic, but also to discuss trilaterally and presumably bilaterally as well their own relations and the strategic environment in the region.

I’m sure that the two leaders this week in Washington will discuss the ROK’s relationship with both China and Japan. In particular, the U.S. has made clear and President Obama has gone to great lengths to be supportive of the steady improvement in bilateral relations not only between the ROK and China, which we discussed earlier, but importantly, between Japan and Korea. Japan and Korea are our two closest allies in Northeast Asia, and their relationship and their ability to cooperate is a strategic priority for the United States.

AMBASSADOR LIPPERT: I would just add on TPP, as Danny said, we very much welcome the interest from the Republic of Korea. And I would point out that the Republic of Korea has bilateral free trade agreements with 10 of the 12 TPP members. So it makes them – it puts them in a very logical position going forward.

Moreover, we have been in constant consultation with the ROK, the Republic of Korea, on TPP. And we look forward to continuing those consultations as our processes here in Washington as well as the other TPP member nations’ capitals unfolds.

MR ZIMMER: Let’s go to the middle – the blue scarf, please.

QUESTION: Thank you. My name is Mikyung Kim with the Seoul Shinmun Daily, Korea. Would you be more specific on what two presidents discussed in terms of North Korea’s possible further provocations? Will they focus on more sanctions against North Korea or returning to the dialogue, like Six-Party Talks? And how will they address the Chinese role to prevent North Korea from the further provocations? Thank you.

MR KRITENBRINK: Why don’t I take an initial stab, if that’s alright?

I think both our countries continue to watch closely the situation, and I think that we have continued to make clear that we expect and we call on North Korea to live up to its international obligations, both under the September 2005 Joint Statement and under numerous UN Security Council resolutions, to live up to those denuclearization commitments, those commitments vis-a-vis ballistic missile technology and our expectation that North Korea will avoid any actions that raise tensions or that violate those commitments from the Joint Statement and from various UN Security Council resolutions. So I think that will be one focus of conversation.

And the – I think the focus needs to remain on North Korean behavior going forward, and I think that will be where the two presidents focus their discussion. And obviously, as we have seen in the past, North Korea unfortunately has not lived up to those obligations. And if we see that situation, we’ll have to respond accordingly.

You mentioned the Chinese role. We’ve long welcomed and recognized the important role that China plays in the Six-Party Talks process. We’ve long called on China to use its influence vis-a-vis North Korea to encourage North Korea to return to a path of denuclearization, and I anticipate that that will be a topic of conversations as well. And I can say very candidly, during the recent state visit by President Xi Jinping, this was, of course, a conversation that was discussed both in private and was publicly referred to in the joint press conference between President Obama and President Xi in the Rose Garden on September 25th.

And as you noted, at that time President Obama made clear what we’re focused on: that we’re focused on denuclearization; that we will never accept North Korea as a nuclear weapons state. And President Xi stated that China remains committed to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. And so that will be our expectation of China going forward.

Danny or Mark, do you want to --

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: Yeah. Let me add that the focus of the discussion certainly will cover the range of threats that North Korea poses to the ROK and to the region – the military threats, the other forms of provocation, the nuclear threat, and the ballistic missile threat. I’m sure that the leaders will also discuss the abysmal human rights situation in North Korea, which is a matter of grave concern. They will surely discuss inter-Korean relations, mindful of the upcoming long-delayed family reunion visits, which are expected in about a week or so. And I suspect they will reaffirm their mutual commitment to advance the goal of peaceful unification.

But with respect to sanctions, let’s remember that sanctions are a means, not an end. The goal of sanctions is to bring the decision makers in North Korea to the realization that the only viable path forward is the peaceful path of negotiations and compliance with international law and its obligations. And dialogue itself is a means to an end. We – the United States and the ROK – seek authentic negotiations that can implement the commitments made in the 2005 Six-Party Joint Statement.

And lastly, apropos of China and China’s role, I would add that the recent visit to Pyongyang by the Standing Committee member of the Chinese Politburo, Liu Yunshan, offered an opportunity for China to speak directly to North Korea’s leaders to make its views known. Now, we’ve heard, as Dan mentioned, President Xi Jinping affirm China’s strong commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and the avoidance of provocative behavior and the need to honor agreements and international law. I would certainly hope and presume that that’s the consistent message that the Chinese are delivering to all parties, including North Korea.

AMBASSADOR LIPPERT: Yeah. I might just add one last point to dovetail off of what Dan and Danny have said is, look, we’re very aligned on our goals: authentic and credible negotiation towards denuclearization. And moreover, we’re also aligned on the strategy, right, and really a three-pronged strategy. Dialogue, as Danny said, is paramount. And I think the Obama Administration has shown that over the course of the past six years, if there is an interlocutor on the other side of the table, the Administration stands ready to engage in principled diplomacy to solve complex problems, and the cases of Iran, Cuba, and Burma bear that out.

However, if the North does not want to come back to the table like it is at present, we’re going to continue to use diplomatic means to isolate the North Koreans and to continue to prevent them from effectuating their Byungjin policy.

On the economic side, we’ll continue to work and examine ways to impose costs on the nuclear missile programs, both through bilateral and multilateral sanctions.

And finally, we’ll, as Dan and Danny both mentioned at the outset, continue to work very hard on our deterrence capabilities. Be it in missile defense, be it in conventional capabilities on the peninsula, we are bringing the best, most capable platforms to the Korean peninsula, to the Western Pacific, to ensure that there is a robust deterrence in the peninsula as well as protection of the U.S. homeland.

MR ZIMMER: Thank you. Let’s go to the back, please. On the side, please.

QUESTION: Thank you. My name is Jae Sun Chang with Yonhap News Agency. I’m wondering if there is any possibility of the two leaders discussing the issue of THAAD missile defense system as part of your ways to defend against North Korea’s ballistic missile threat. And if that issue is not on the agenda at this time, wondering when do you think is the best time to start discussions on that issue? Thank you.

AMBASSADOR LIPPERT: As I’ve said just last week at a press conference in Seoul, I don’t – I think it’s highly unlikely that it will come up, and I do not believe it will be on the agenda and wouldn’t speculate into hypotheticals about when might – may or may not be the best time.

MR ZIMMER: Anybody on this side? Please. The blue shirt.

QUESTION: Yeah, my name is Jumpei Yoshioka from Japanese Public TV NHK. Can I follow up on the first question from my colleague about ROK-China relationship? Specifically, is the United States satisfied with the development with ROK-China relationship showing that President Park going to the military parade and watching PLA’s parade? Thank you.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: Look, it’s not lost on anyone that the only war that the PLA has fought was against the South Koreans. But it’s also obvious that the strategic interest of the ROK – and I would argue not only the United States, but the international community – lies in improved and enhanced coordination between Beijing, Seoul, and other partners with regard to meeting the challenge presented by North Korea’s behavior and North Korea’s pursuit of a nuclear missile capability.

The president of Korea made her own decision, and I think that her ability to engage on substance with President Xi in Beijing afforded her and us opportunity for important consultations.

MR KRITENBRINK: I fully agree with that. Just to reiterate what we said at the outset, we do not see these issues in zero-sum, black-and-white terms. I think it’s in our collective interest to see every country develop a constructive relationship with China. And regarding this particular event, as Danny said, every country made their own sovereign decision about how and whether to be represented at that event, and we respect that. The United States was represented by our very able ambassador in Beijing, Max Baucus. I know another – a number of other countries made other decisions.

MR ZIMMER: (Inaudible), please.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. Thank you very much, sir, for doing this. My name is Wada. I’m with Japan’s Mainichi newspaper. You mentioned the importance of cooperation between China, ROK, and Japan. But there seems to be a new source of potential tension, especially between Japan and China, over UNESCO – the recent acceptance of documents related to Nanjing Massacre by UNESCO in its international Memory of World Registration. And response from Japan – the Government of Japan is pretty strong. China doesn’t like the reaction and there seems to be some talks of China and South Korea making some new proposal about some documents related to comfort women. My question is: How worried are you about this issue? It has a potential of becoming a new source of tension between those three countries.

And the other question is about your vision of a new frontier issue, one which was cyber cooperation. What kind of cooperation do you want to pursue in this area? Thank you.

MR KRITENBRINK: On the history issue, I would just start by making a very general point that our hope is that all countries in the Asia Pacific could focus on the future, focus on reconciliation, could focus on expanding cooperation to pursue our mutual interests – peace, prosperity, and stability. These historical issues that you mentioned are exceptionally complex. They do need to be addressed. But we hope that all of us will keep that – keep our focus again on the future – reconciliation and cooperation – rather than the past, and that certainly has been the objective of the United States.

Danny, I don't know if you wanted to add to that, or Mark, if you wanted to say something on cyber.

AMBASSADOR LIPPERT: Just I’ll be – yeah, I’ll be very quick on cyber. Look, we have a good deal going on in cyber across a range of agencies between the United States and the Republic of Korea. I think our challenge is to deepen and broaden that cooperation, share best practices, develop expertise, cadres, so on and so forth. But it’s also to coordinate all this activity. We have mechanisms in place on the defense side that help coordinate the myriad and plethora of activity that goes on in the security relationship. We have the 2+2 that coordinates our diplomatic activity. And so perhaps one area where we might look to focus on first is to better coordinate all of the activity while we’re enhancing, deepening, and broadening it on the technical side as well.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: I would add, if I could, that since President Park’s last visit to the United States, both the Republic of Korea and the United States have been the target of very substantial cyber attacks emanating from North Korea. And I think that the urgency and the importance of that coordination is clear to see.

MR ZIMMER: I think we’ll have maybe --

MR KRITENBRINK: Could I do one final comment on cyber as well? I think there is a real interest as well among all of us in the region in discussing norms and standards of behavior in cyber space, and I think you’ll the United States, together with other partners and friends, in the months ahead making a real push to try to reach agreement on what those acceptable norms of state behavior are in cyber space.

Please. Sorry about that.

MR ZIMMER: I think we’ll have two more questions and we’ll allow the briefers to conclude. Let’s go to in front, please.

QUESTION: Thank you. Jane with China Sina News. Ambassador Lippert, following up on the military parade, could you – we know there has been concern in Washington about attendance of President Park to the military parade last month, and the picture of her standing next to President Xi and Putin was quite symbolic. Could you tell us more about what the negotiation was like between U.S. and Korea at that time? Is President Park’s action at odds with U.S. interest?

And for Mr. Kritenbrink, one question: At this timing right after President Xi just visit the U.S., how do you expect the two president to exchange their China’s policy to each other? Thank you.

AMBASSADOR LIPPERT: Do you want to go first or do you want me to go first? Dan, do you want to go?

MR KRITENBRINK: Go ahead.

AMBASSADOR LIPPERT: As Danny and Dan have said – they’ve really answered this question already. This was a sovereign decision by the Republic of Korea. President Park went to China and it was clear to us that she made good use of the visit in terms of pushing forward the agenda on North Korea. And that’s a good thing. We view China – we believe China could and should do more on the North Korea issue, and the President going at this time and engaging the most senior levels of the Chinese Government on a very critical issue such as North Korea is something that we all can be supportive of.

MR KRITENBRINK: And on your question regarding our policies vis-a-vis China, what I would anticipate is that President Obama would have an opportunity to explain to President Park the outcomes of President Xi’s state visit here. And as we’ve stated publicly many times, we take a constructive and balanced approach to our relationship with China. It’s an incredibly complex relationship, as well. We were pleased during the course of the state visit that we had a chance to focus on the tremendous cooperation that takes place between the United States and China on everything from climate change to clean energy to expanding our military-to-military cooperation and people-to-people relations. We also broke ground on a whole range of new areas, including development, peacekeeping, environmental, conservation.

At the same time, I’m confident that the President will be able to also say through this state visit we demonstrate that our two countries address very candidly, very directly many of the differences and sources of tension that exist between us. And I think you saw during the state visit by President Xi that our two presidents really had very robust, candid discussions on issues like cyber, maritime, and human rights.

So if the issue of our approaches to China comes up, I’m sure the President will give that balanced, comprehensive view of our approach and I’m sure he’ll be interested in hearing from President Park her views on South Korea’s relationship with China. But again, to reiterate what we said repeatedly here today, we don’t see these issues in zero-sum terms and we encourage all countries to have a constructive relationship with China. That’s certainly been our approach and we would encourage others to do the same.

MR ZIMMER: Let’s go to the very back for a final question, please.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. I’m Yongjin Yi, the correspondent working from the Hankyoreh Newspaper in Seoul. I’d like to ask a sensitive issue. United States has emphasized the U.S.-Korea – U.S. and Korea has been sharing the common value such as democracy or human rights, but what do you say to people who say that does state control over school textbook is against democracy in Seoul, in Korea – in South Korea? Thank you very much.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: What I say is that because the Republic of Korea is a democracy, it’s for the people of Korea and their representatives to make decisions such as that.

We can go – no, no, let’s go.

MR ZIMMER: We have time for one more? Let’s do here, please.

QUESTION: Thank you so much. Rita Cheng from Central News Agency, Taiwan. My question is quite simple, it’s regarding the TPP. The – not only South Korea but Taiwan is also showing a lot of interest for joining the second round negotiation. And as the Assistant Secretary said, the U.S. welcomes South Korea’s interest. What kind of the message that you would like to send to Taiwan, and what’s the Americans’ concern for whether Taiwan can join the second round negotiation? Is the so-called China factor play any role in this context? Thank you.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: My message to Taiwan regarding TPP is this: Keep up the good work. (Laughter.) There has been a significant amount of reform and progress on the economy and on difficult trade issues. There is a lot more that can and should be done.

On the very positive side, we are proud to host a growing span of investment from Taiwan, and we are pleased that Taiwan companies see so much value in operating in and investing in the United States. Similarly, our trade relationship is growing and barriers are coming down. These are all good things.

Secondly, the chapters and the details of the TPP agreement now that the negotiations are done are becoming fully known and offer a template for countries to make progress in their internal reforms by way of liberalizing, by way of making improvements, whether it’s with regard to environment or labor. There’s a lot that major economies throughout the Asia Pacific region, including Taiwan, can do to move into the direction of what would be necessary ultimately to be accepted by all 12 TPP members as a new negotiating partner when the TPP countries ultimately ratify the agreement and then turn to the next step.

Do I keep going, or --

AMBASSADOR LIPPERT: One more. I think one more.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: We can take one more.

AMBASSADOR LIPPERT: Let’s take one more.

MR ZIMMER: Please, sir.

QUESTION: My name is Tong Kim with Korea Times. Having listened to you, out of three, we don’t expect anything new in terms of what the two leaders might come to conclusion at the result of their summit Friday regarding what new approaches they might jointly take toward North Korea, which is still (inaudible) source of a threat. And without resolution of the North Korean issue, I don’t think there would be a sustainable – or stability not only the peninsula, but also in the region as well.

Now, question number one: Would you – any of you or the Administration take any credibility for the fact that North Korea (inaudible) from their threat to stage second – I mean fourth nuclear test or launching of another missile – long-distance missile? They didn’t do that. And you said one of the three topics (inaudible) for the two leaders to discuss about would be, number one, alliance that has deterrent – the function. And you think – would you take the credit that that happened because of the strong message that South Korea and United States issued to North Korea jointly? In that matter, in regard with that matter, whether there’s been any channel of communication other than public forums that Washington conveyed any message asking them not to conduct such provocative actions again this time?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: Okay, so you’re – if I understand, your two questions are how concerned are we at the prospect of a North Korean launch or test, and do we have --

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: Well, let’s make it short.

QUESTION: Last two question is: I understand your positions – you said it’s a three-pronged strategy, and positions and preconditions of talks, whatever you called it – meaningful and serious, as Dan described it today, or others always say “credible and authentic,” whatever that might be, whether there has been any change, in fact, in the major thrust or direction towards North Korea.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: Let me give my colleagues a chance to reply, but to begin by saying our strategy is to achieve the conditions for the negotiated, peaceful denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. That requires an affirmative decision by the leadership in the DPRK to negotiate. What credible means is that we are looking for credible indicators that North Korea has decided to negotiate. Negotiating doesn’t mean giving up or surrender. It means engaging seriously in an effort to try to find a way forward and common ground.

What we mean by authentic is that the negotiations are focusing on the real issue. And the real issue is North Korea’s nuclear program and its violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

The strategy which is consistent and which is shared between Washington and Seoul and certainly Tokyo is to bring the North Korean leader to the conclusion that: number one, he can obtain the security, the respect, the economic opportunity, and the other things that he apparently seeks, but only through compliance with North Korea’s obligations and through negotiations; secondly, that the alternative strategy of threatening and blustering, of pursuing nuclear weapons, and harboring the hope that the international community will support North Korea’s economy, is a fallacy that will not work.

That is one important reason why we continue to strengthen bilateral and multilateral sanctions. The North Koreans have to come face to face with the challenge of apportioning shortfall. Are they going to fund their nuclear program, their missile program, their People’s Army, their Workers’ Party cadre, their light industry, their heavy industry, or buy gold Rolexes and BMWs for party members to buy loyalty? They can’t do all of these things. That is one of the important roles that sanctions play.

But the strategy ultimately aims at bringing North Korea to the place where it realizes the inescapable truth that only negotiations can get North Korea to a sustainable place.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

AMBASSDOR LIPPERT: I would just add --

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: Let me --

AMBASSADOR LIPPERT: I would just add --

QUESTION: North Korea never --

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: Let me last let --

AMBASSADOR LIPPERT: I would just add quickly that: one, North Korea is more isolated than it’s been, the five other parties are more unified than they have been; two, there are more sanctions – multilateral, unilateral – against the North Koreans; and three, there is more platforms and deterrence in the region as a result. The ball is in the North Koreans’ court. The reason it hasn’t happened is – unlike Cuba, unlike Iran, unlike Myanmar, who chose to engage with the Obama Administration, who offered a diplomatic way forward to engage in principled diplomacy to solve complex problems – the North Koreans have chosen not to do that thus far. We’re hopeful that they will change their mind. We’re hopeful that they will come back to the table. We stand ready. It’s precisely why we appointed Sung Kim as our Special Representative, to have a senior seasoned diplomat ready to engage if and when the North makes a decision to come back to the table.

MR ZIMMER: Thank you for joining us today. We appreciate your attendance. We appreciate our briefers’ valuable time. Thank you.

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