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Good afternoon.  I want to start by thanking our hosts for the Extended Deterrence Strategy and Consultation Group (EDSCG), Ministry of Foreign Affairs First Vice Minister Chang Ho-jin and Ministry of National Defense Vice Minister Shin Beom-chul.  Thank you for a warm welcome and productive meeting.  My trips to the Republic of Korea are always rewarding, and this was no exception.

This trip is even more significant as this year we are celebrating 70 years of the alliance between the United States and the Republic of Korea.  Since 1953, our Alliance has been the linchpin of peace, security, and prosperity for Northeast Asia, the broader Indo-Pacific, and beyond.

Our governments have been very busy since we last met in Washington a year ago, almost to the day.  Since then, our presidents committed to the historic Washington Declaration during President Yoon Suk Yeol’s state visit to Washington.  With the addition of the Nuclear Consultative Group to the Alliance’s security consultation structure, our governments are now better positioned to discuss the operational implications of a worsening DPRK nuclear threat and conduct nuclear planning activities to better deter and, if necessary, defend against DPRK aggression.  Within the EDSCG our objective remains focused on integrating and coordinating all levers of our national power – diplomatic, informational, military, and economic – to bolster the Alliance’s deterrence and defense posture, as well as counter the threat posed by DPRK proliferation.

Today’s meeting built on the progress we have worked hard to achieve this past year and is another demonstration that the U.S. security commitment to the ROK is ironclad.  We discussed the ever-present threat that the DPRK poses, and how our governments can coordinate better to strengthen deterrence and manage the regional proliferation threat from the DPRK.  The United States reaffirms that any nuclear attack by the DPRK against the United States or its Allies and partners, including the ROK, would be unacceptable and would result in the end of that regime.

We will continue to take appropriate actions in response to destabilizing DPRK activities, including the continued development of nuclear and missile capabilities, such as the DPRK’s latest attempt to launch a space launch vehicle.  We remain concerned over the potential for a DPRK nuclear test in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions, which would result in a firm response from the United States and the Republic of Korea.

Our goal remains the complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.  We remain committed to seeking dialogue with the DPRK and are prepared to meet without preconditions to maintain peace and stability.  We strongly condemn the escalation in DPRK-Russia defense and political cooperation and discussed today how to counter Russia’s facilitation of the DPRK’s unlawful nuclear and ballistic missile programs and DPRK assistance to Russia’s illegal war effort in Ukraine.  In the context of mounting DPRK threats to regional stability, the United States will continue its efforts to counter any and all threats to the U.S.-ROK Alliance.

As part of those efforts, we will continue to urge the PRC to engage in conversations to manage and reduce the strategic risks posed by its unprecedented and rapid build-up of nuclear weapons.  We thank the ROK for repeatedly underscoring the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, and our governments will continue to explore how best to promote broader regional stability and security on the Korean Peninsula.

Thank you again to our hosts, Vice Ministers Chang and Shin.  Acting Under Secretary Sasha Baker and I could not have asked for a better discussion today.  I am already looking forward to next year’s meeting.  In the meantime, our governments will continue our important collaboration to maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific.  Thank you.

U.S. Department of State

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