On the occasion of the visit to the United States by Republic of Korea President Park Geun-hye, the United States-Republic of Korea Alliance stands stronger and more vibrant than ever. Originally forged in shared sacrifice 60 years ago, our relationship has become multi-faceted and global in scope, embracing not only diplomatic and security cooperation, but deep and sustained economic, scientific, cultural, and people-to-people ties as well.
A Strong, Future-Oriented Alliance
The U.S. commitment to the Republic of Korea’s security remains unwavering. Through a bilateral Extended Deterrence Policy Committee, our two countries are developing a tailored deterrence strategy to improve the effectiveness of extended deterrence against North Korean nuclear and weapons of mass destruction threats. Both countries signed the Counter Provocation Plan in March, which will enable us to respond immediately and decisively to any North Korean provocation. Under the Strategic Alliance 2015 plan, the United States and Republic of Korea are preparing for the transition of wartime operational control (OPCON) to a Republic of Korea-led defense in December 2015. Both the United States and Republic of Korea continue to develop interoperability and readiness through the use of annual joint and combined exercises such as Ulchi Freedom Guardian, Key Resolve, and Foal Eagle. While proceeding with OPCON transition, the two sides will work to ensure that the Republic of Korea is ready to lead the combined defense by 2015.
To strengthen the Alliance’s defense posture ahead of this transition, the Republic of Korea is executing an acquisition program for several major weapons systems. The Republic of Korea announced on April 17 that it will purchase 36 U.S. Army Apache (AH-64E) helicopters, the most technically-advanced version available to the U.S. Army, which means continued interoperability at the highest level. Other investments, both current and planned, emphasize improvements in Alliance intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), interoperable command, control, communications, computers and intelligence systems (C4I), and shared efforts to counter the missile threat posed by North Korea.
Deepening Economic Ties
The United States and Republic of Korea reaffirmed our commitment to fully implement the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) to ensure that the economic vision of the agreement is realized for both sides. For more information on the KORUS FTA, please see this fact sheet.
On May 12, the U.S. Department of Commerce will lead a trade mission called “Trade Winds” to the Republic of Korea to expose U.S. small businesses to opportunities created by the KORUS FTA. This effort will help increase U.S. exports, create jobs, and provide Korean consumers with a broader variety of affordable products made in the United States.
Expanding Cooperation on Global Issues
A strong U.S.-ROK alliance benefits both countries, and ensures stability for the Asia Pacific region. Our growing international security cooperation also benefits the global community.
Both countries discussed with deep concern the growing humanitarian crisis in Syria. The United States and Republic of Korea condemn the Syrian regime’s indiscriminate and continuing use of violence against civilians. The United States welcomes Republic of Korea contributions to international efforts to address the humanitarian needs of the Syrian people, and both countries are working with the international community to strengthen cooperation on Syria.
The United States welcomes the Republic of Korea’s continued commitment to international efforts for the reconstruction and stabilization of Afghanistan.
The United States and Republic of Korea are close partners on Iran. The Republic of Korea has been a leader in supporting international efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue through strong support of the P5+1 process and implementation of sanctions measures.
Science, Technology, and Cyber Partnerships
The United States and Republic of Korea have a long history of collaboration in science and technology, reflecting the two nations’ mutual recognition that science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education, scientific research, and technology development are essential to economic prosperity, enhanced public health, environmental sustainability, and national security. Both sides agreed to hold the next ministerial meeting of the biannual Joint Commission for Science and Technology Cooperation later this year.
U.S.-ROK cooperation on information and communications technology policy, Internet issues, and cybersecurity continues to expand. Both countries are pleased to announce that bilateral consultations on cyber issues will take place this summer, in preparation for the Seoul Conference on Cyberspace on October 17-18, 2013.
The United States and Republic of Korea have decided to establish a bilateral Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Policy Forum. The ICT Policy Forum will be a recurring dialogue to address policy issues vital to the ICT sector and the Internet economy, including issues such as data privacy, regulatory practices, Internet freedom, and Internet governance.
Collaboration on Climate Change and Energy
The United States and Republic of Korea share the view that climate change represents a threat to the security and economic development of all nations. To that end, both countries collaborate extensively on climate change science, clean energy research, and sustainable development–issues that are a priority for both our nations–and will continue to demonstrate leadership and coordinate closely as we work towards an ambitious and coordinated global response to this serious challenge. The text of the U.S.-ROK joint statement on climate change cooperation can be found here.
The U.S. Department of Energy and the Republic of Korea Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy exchanged views on cooperation on a wide range of energy priorities, noting the importance of clean energy technologies for energy security, economic competitiveness, and sustainable growth, while mitigating the effects of greenhouse gas emissions. The U.S.-ROK joint statement on energy cooperation can be found here.
Enhancing People-to-People Ties
Our people-to-people ties with the Republic of Korea are robust. The Republic of Korea sends more university students to the United States per capita than any other major economy, over 72,000 per year. The United States and Republic of Korea are pleased to announce their intent to renew the Work, English, Study, and Travel (WEST) program. Both countries also have partnered to create two new Fulbright scholarships focused on U.S.-ROK Alliance studies: one scholarship will bring a Korean academic to the United States, while a second will send a U.S. academic to the Republic of Korea.
The U.S. Peace Corps and the Korea International Cooperation Agency intend to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to establish a framework for continuing collaboration on global development and international volunteer programs. Building upon the development cooperation MOU signed by our two countries in 2011, this new MOU will highlight our shared objective of advancing global development through volunteerism, and demonstrate that the younger generation in each of our countries is cooperating to resolve global issues.