Good evening. I’m delighted to be back in Seoul. It’s no coincidence that the first stop on my first overseas trip of 2014 is to the Republic of Korea which remains one of the most important allies the United States has anywhere in the world.
2013 was an exceptional year in our relationship as we celebrated the 60th anniversary of our alliance and I look forward very much to using this visit to build on that foundation and get off to a very strong start in the first year of the next 60 years of our alliance.
I look forward to discussing with my Korean friends tomorrow a range of issues on our common agenda. On security, I will stress once again the continued commitment of the United States to close coordination, close consultation on the challenges posed by North Korea, to looking for ways in which we can strengthen our efforts to ensure the verifiable denuclearization of the peninsula, to express once again our strong support for the principled approach to the DPRK taken by President Park, and also to stress our continued commitment to the defense and security of South Korea.
I also look forward to discussing ways in which we can strengthen our economic relationship through the implementation of our Free Trade Agreement which is bringing significant benefit to both of our countries, and through work to extend the current civil nuclear cooperation agreement and work on a successor agreement. We also welcome the interest expressed by the Republic of Korea in the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
We also want to build on our global partnership, working not only on issues of common concern across the Asia Pacific, supporting the Republic of Korea’s efforts to strengthen its ties to ASEAN, its humanitarian efforts which we welcome with regard to the Philippines in the past year, and also to work together on important international challenges like Iran’s nuclear program and civil war in Syria.
And finally we look forward to strengthening our people to people ties. With more than 70,000 Korean students in the United States now and more and more Americans studying in Korea, this is a huge opportunity to further strengthen the ties between our societies. So once again, I’m delighted to be back in Seoul and I look forward very much to our discussions tomorrow. Thank you very much and have a good night.