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Diplomacy in Action

Press Availability at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade


Press Availability
Kurt M. Campbell
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Seoul, South Korea
October 7, 2010

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ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Thank you. Good morning everyone. It is terrific to be back in South Korea and to renew friendships and associations with such good friends here at the Foreign Ministry. I bring with me very good wishes from the President who is very much looking forward to his visit to South Korea, not only for the G20 meetings, but also for his meetings with President Lee Myung-bak. I also bring best wishes from Secretary Clinton who wishes well the incoming new South Korean nominee for Foreign Minister, former National Security Advisor Kim. She will be talking with him directly in the coming days.

The Deputy Foreign Ministry and I -- I will just fill in a few gaps of the things that we just discussed. We are in the process of very deep consultations between our two countries on a range of issues. What is most important during a period of developments in North Korea is to ensure that the United States and South Korea remain in lock step, and are extraordinarily closely engaged on our mutual assessments in terms of developments in North Korea. And this meeting provided the opportunity for discussions about developments last week in terms of the party congress and other things that we are seeing in North Korea.

We did speak extensively on regional security issues of the kind that the Minister raised and we also talked about the next steps associated with the 2+2 process that has been put in place formally and announced by Secretary Gates and Secretary Clinton on their last visit. The Deputy Minister will be visiting Washington as a guest of Assistant Secretary Gregson and myself in December and we look forward to continuing those discussions.

I also had a chance to meet with my old friend, Ambassador Wi Sung-lac, and we talked about his own assessments about what is transpiring inside of North Korea. I am happy, I think both of us of are happy, to take a few questions. I apologize - we will need to be stepping out fairly quickly, but would love to take a couple of questions if there are any.

QUESTION: Mr. Campbell, Sujin Chun from Joongang Daily. Welcome back to South Korea in less than three months. I have a question regarding what you said in Washington right before your trip; you said that you trust President Lee Myung-bak’s decision. Does it, did you say that in the context of the possibility of an inter-Korean summit in any sense?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: First of all, the critical component in terms of developments on the Korean Peninsula, in the current environment, is to see a reengagement between North and South Korea. And we have sent a very clear message that we have total trust and confidence in our partners in South Korea, and we believe that President Lee Myung-bak has managed the very challenging relationship with North Korea with statesmanship, with patience and with calm, and we feel very comfortable with South Korea in the lead. We also believe that there are some signs of dialogue and engagement between North and South, and we encourage that process to continue.

QUESTION: What will be the U.S. preconditions for having bilateral talks with North Korea and ultimately Six-Party Talks?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Well, look, the first step as we have said has to be a reengagement between North Korea and South Korea. I think we are also looking for a clear and demonstrable commitment on the part of the North Koreans to fulfill their commitments that they made on denuclearization in 2005.

QUESTION: Can you draw a clear line in the sand that we must need an apology from North Korea regarding the sinking of the naval ship?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: I will stick with what I said: We need, we need to see a degree of reengagement between North and South Korea. The fundamentals of that really are for the South Koreans to decide.

Thank you all very much. I appreciate the opportunity to be with you all here today.

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