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Cablegate: Ambassador's Introductory Meeting with the Korean Minister

R 220548Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY SEOUL
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 2728

UNCLAS SEOUL 002452


SENSTIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL CVIS CASC KOCI KS
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR'S INTRODUCTORY MEETING WITH THE KOREAN MINISTER
OF JUSTICE

This cable contains material that is sensitive but unclassified
(SBU). Please protect accordingly. SBU material is prohibited from
being posting on publicly accessible State Department internet
sites.


1. (SBU) Summary: On December 18, 2008, Ambassador Stephens paid a
courtesy call on Korean Minister of Justice Kim Kyung-Han at the
Gwacheon Government Complex. She raised USG concerns about
international child custody and abduction issues and urged the ROK
to join the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International
Child Abduction. The Minister welcomed Korea's admission to the
Visa Waiver Program and inquired about the status of the USG effort
to obtain a site for a new Chancery. End Summary.

THE HAGUE CONVENTION ON CHILD ABDUCTION
---------------------------------------

2. (SBU) At a cordial introductory meeting on December 18, 2008,
the Ambassador suggested to Korean Minister of Justice Kim Kyung-Han
that increasingly numerous people-to-people and other ties between
the U.S. and Korea meant the two countries needed to work together
even more closely on issues like child custody. The Minister said
the MOJ is aware of the Melanson child abduction case and assured
the Ambassador of his Ministry's cooperation. The Minister also
indicated the Ministry is studying the possibility of accession to
the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child
Abduction, but the results of the study are not yet available. The
Ambassador urged a positive review. (Note: Embassy had heard
earlier that the study will be finalized in January and that we will
be passed a copy. End note.)

VISA WAIVER PROGRAM
-------------------

3. (SBU) The Minister noted with pleasure that the Visa Waiver
Program (VWP) was recently put in place for Korean citizens. The
Ambassador underscored that Korean membership in the VWP
demonstrates the strength of the U.S.-ROK relationship. The
Ambassador and the Minister agreed to continue to work together
closely on the VWP to make sure that it proceeds smoothly.

NEW EMBASSY COMPOUND; OLD TIES
------------------------------

4. (SBU) Minister Kim asked if the U.S. Embassy was still in the
Gwanghwamun area of downtown Seoul. The Ambassador responded that
it is, and outlined briefly the status of ongoing efforts to reach
agreement with the ROKG for a new site at Camp Coiner. The process
had been a long and a frustrating one, but we were looking forward
to moving ahead on the new site.

5. (SBU) Finally, Minister Kim pulled out a handwritten note from
his wife, saying he had a personal favor to ask the Ambassador, that
of helping his wife locate a former Peace Corps volunteer who had
lived with his wife's family in Taegu in the sixties. The
Ambassador said she would try to assist.

6. (SBU) Comment: The Justice Minister's awareness of high-level
concern about the Melanson child abduction case is encouraging.
Post will continue to raise the child abduction issue until the
Melanson case is resolved, and will continue to work toward ROKG
joining of the Hague Convention on child abduction. The Justice
Minister was only the latest of the dozens of high-ranking Korean
officials who have asked the Ambassador, a former Peace Corps
volunteer in Korea herself, to help in finding old friends and
contacts. The reach of Peace Corps in Korea, more than twenty-five
years after it departed, is remarkable. End comment.

STEPHENS

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