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Powell Remarks With South Korean Foreign Minister

Remarks With Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Republic of Korea Yoon Young-Kwan After Their Meeting

Secretary Colin L. Powell C Street Entrance Washington, DC March 28, 2003

(1:00 p.m. EST)

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, good morning or good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. It is been my pleasure to host my new Korean colleague, Foreign Minister Yoon. We have had a good set of discussions. We have covered the issues you would expect.

We discussed the situation with respect to North Korea and I, once again, committed to the Foreign Minister and to President Roh that we are pursuing every diplomatic option to solve this problem, and we are staying engaged with our South Korean friends on a very regular basis, as well as our Chinese, Japanese and Russian colleagues, as well as the International Atomic Energy Agency.

I also, again, reaffirmed to the minister our commitment to the security of South Korea. I also mentioned to the minister that I have been involved in South Korean matters for many, many years. It was 30 years ago this year that I assumed command of an infantry battalion in South Korea and I have the warmest memories of my time in South Korea and I expressed my pride, and I know the pride of all Americans, on how South Korea has developed over those 30 years into a thriving, functioning democracy that has a solid, powerful partnership with the United States -- a partnership that rests not just on security matters or the threat presented by North Korea, but by mutual commitment to the values of democracy and open economic activity and the dignity of individuals.

So it is a broad and a deep relationship that has many facets to it. And it's a relationship we hope to build upon as we celebrate this year the 50th anniversary of our Mutual Treaty of Security and Defense, and as we look forward to welcoming the new President of the Republic of Korea when he, President Roh, visits here a little bit later on this spring.

Mr. Minister, it's a great pleasure to have you here and I invite you to say a word or two.

MINISTER YOON: Thank you. We had a very pleasant lunch and discussed various issues related to the North Korea nuclear development and how we can strengthen our bilateral alliance relationship, and how we can prepare for the coming summit in May. This year is the 50th anniversary of our alliance and it is very important for us to have a very fruitful and successful summit in coming May, and we agreed to cooperate with each other closely.

Also, we agreed to cooperate in developing some common strategy toward North Korea. Through closer cooperation we will be able to successfully resolve the North Korean issue. Thank you.

SECRETARY POWELL: I just want to say before taking a question how pleased I was to learn a few moments ago that the Security Council has passed the new Oil-for-Food Resolution for Iraq by a 15-0 vote. I'm glad the Council was able to come together in unanimity on this issue. Thank you.

Excuse me. George.

QUESTION: Could you bring us up to date on your request to have a multilateral discussion involving North Korea?

SECRETARY POWELL: Yes. We continue to believe that the proper way to handle the nuclear situation with North Korea is through multilateral dialogue. It is an issue that affects not just North Korea and the United States, but the other nations in the region. We are pressing ahead seeking a variety of channels and using a variety of channels to see if we cannot begin such discussions.

We are hard at work on it. Some suggest that we are distracted because of Iraq, but that is not the case. We are spending a great deal of time pursuing this -- these diplomatic alternatives.

QUESTION: What is the formation of the multilateral talks and how would induce North Koreans into the talks?

SECRETARY POWELL: We are still exploring a variety of options and avenues, and the one thing I can assure you is that we will be in the closest coordination and consultation with our South Korean friends as we go forward. But I have nothing to announce or to say at this time about any particular format or forum.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, have you spoken with Foreign Minister Ivanov about your concerns that Russian firms are selling military related items to Iraq?

SECRETARY POWELL: Yes, I have, regularly. I spoke to Mr. Ivanov most recently, I think, two days ago, perhaps three, and as I think I have said before, I gave him additional information at that time, which he is using with his various ministries to look into the matter and to run it to ground. But I haven't spoken to him in the last two days.

QUESTION: Secretary Powell, your Korean counterpart this morning suggested it may be time for a bold initiative along the lines of the Nixon administration's initiative towards China. Did that come up in your meeting and what are your views on the utility of such a measure?

SECRETARY POWELL: We discussed a number of ideas. My colleague presented us with a roadmap of things that we might do with respect to the situation with North Korea, and I found it to be an interesting approach, which we will be examining. We also talked about other things we might do in preparation for the summit meeting later this spring when President Roh visits.

You will recall that when we started our dialogue with North Korea last year before the nuclear issue broke out into the open, we were thinking in terms of a bold initiative, something that would move this relationship between the nations in the region and North Korea onto a different plane in a way in which we could help North Korea with its economic problems, with problems of starvation and other difficulties they are having within their society.

Those kinds of ideas and options and the kinds of ideas and options that the minister mentioned in the speech this morning are on the table. It seems to me once we deal with the issue of nuclear proliferation, proliferation of weapons, and some of the other activities that are ongoing within North Korea with respect to their military expenditures, I think a lot is out there waiting for North Korea once they realize their obligation to comply with the international agreements and bilateral agreements they have previously entered into with respect to nuclear weapons.

QUESTION: Secretary Powell, regarding Iraq, are you considering to any degree a peaceful solution until now, and are there any contacts from the Arab sides, especially Saudis, regarding a peaceful solution about Iraq?

SECRETARY POWELL: We stay in close touch with our Arab friends in the region. I had a conversation with Foreign Minister Saud a couple of days ago, but I am not aware of any initiative, and I don't think any such initiative would be appropriate at this time.

Saddam Hussein was given his last chance. We now have a war underway and we will prosecute it to its end, and that end will come in due course. Our commanders are confident and we are confident in them. And unfortunately, it was Saddam Hussein who brought this war upon himself and his regime; and he will be removed and so will his regime. QUESTION: You said United States has not made much progress on pressing Asian powers to convene a multilateral forum. Do you think the United States will be eventually successful for that?

SECRETARY POWELL: I didn't say we were not making much progress. You said we were not making much progress.

We are hard at work with our friends in the region, and a number of contacts and discussions are underway and we will see what happens. I don't want to make any predictions or promises that I'm not able to keep at the moment.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, are you concerned by reports that Syria is also allowing people to move across its border into Iraq to fight against the coalition forces, and also that it may be not just allowing the Russian equipment in, but perhaps contributing other materiel to the effort?

SECRETARY POWELL: I'm sorry. I haven't seen those reports this morning, so I can't comment on them.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, due to the present difficulties, would you like to see the "Powell Doctrine" being implemented in the war in Iraq?

SECRETARY POWELL: I have absolute confidence in the commanders who are running this war. And who says it is not being implemented? If whatever it is you describe it as, it is a clear political objective: disarm that country of its weapons of mass destruction. You have to do that by removal of the regime; you use decisive force to do it; and I can assure you that s what those generals and admirals are over there doing. And I know it. I trained them.

Thank you. [End]

Released on March 28, 2003

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