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Rice in Dialogue With Internet Journalists, Seoul

Remarks in Dialogue With Internet Journalists

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Grand Hyatt Hotel
Seoul, Korea
March 20, 2005

AMBASSADOR CHRISTOPHER HILL: Dr. Rice, it is a great pleasure to have you here and to meet with Korean Internet journalists. As is known the worldwide, Korea is one of the most Internet-savvy countries in the world, one of the most wired countries in the world. And Internet journalism has really taken off here, and we have some very talented reporters here. And without further ado, I'd like to turn you over to them. Thank you.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you. Thank you very much to Ambassador Hill, and thank you very much to all of you for being here. Just a couple of points. First of all, it's a delight to sit with a group of Internet journalists. I come from the Silicon Valley in Palo Alto, California, and so I also love the Internet. And so maybe one day I'll read you on the Internet when I'm back at Stanford. I'd also like to take a minute to talk about the great relationship that the United States and South Korea enjoy. It is a relationship that goes back now more than 50 years. It was born out of a terrible war, but it has now become a force not just for peace and stability in this region, in the Asia-Pacific region, but really for peace and stability globally. We've now taken on global responsibilities.

The South Korean people should be proud of and we respect the great democracy that has grown up here, the great prosperity and economic strength that has grown up here. We also respect the fact that South Korea has (inaudible) other people to find their way to freedom and prosperity. The role of the South Korean forces in the provincial reconstruction teams in Afghanistan and the role that the South Koreans have played in helping the people of Iraq.

So, I'm here to talk about the great friendship between the South Korean and American people, the great alliance that we have established, and our responsibilities to make the world even more peaceful and secure in the future.

And now I'd love to take your questions. Who's got a question?

QUESTION: (in Korean) I am from Media-Dao (phonetic). My name is Hun Daeing (phonetic). Now, on behalf of the panel members, I would like to welcome you to Korea, Secretary Rice. And during your visit, I hope that you will see some progress that is beneficial for the two countries' relations.

Now, let me go into my question. There are some differences of views between the United States and South Korea when it comes to North Korean affairs. Many Koreans believe that, despite the violation of human rights in North Korea and North Korea's declaration that it possesses nuclear weapons, still the Koreans want to resolve the issue peacefully.

After the February 10th declaration by North Korea that it possesses nuclear arms, there was a public survey conducted here in Korea and 75 percent of the Korean respondents said that, despite that declaration by North Korea, still South Koreans want to resolve the North Korean issue peacefully by, for example, sending a special envoy to North Korea. However, the United States, in line with its policy to reduce potential future terrorist threats, believes that it can use, if needed, sanctions against North Korea and also containment policies.

Now, do you understand that there is a difference of opinion between the two governments and there are such concerns here in Korea? So, once again, I would like to ask you, do you understand that there is a difference of opinion between the two governments? And also, to overcome such differences, what do you think is the role that the United States should play? And also what do you think that the South Koreans (inaudible)

SECRETARY RICE: (Inaudible) on how to resolve the problem with North Korea. We are united in the Six Party Talks. We also believe that the issue should be resolved peacefully, diplomatically. That is why the United States, along with China and Russia and Japan and South Korea are engaged in the Six Party Talks.

Let's just review for one moment where we are in the Six Party Talks. North Korea has been told by the President of the United States, by former Secretary of State Colin Powell and now by myself that we have no intention to invade or attack North Korea. And that, in fact, in the context of making a strategic choice to give up their nuclear weapons, they could be provided security assurances. That's the first point.

Secondly, the United States, through the Six Party Talks at the last round of the Six Party Talks, put forward a proposal that talked about security assurances, that talked about being willing to look into and try to address North Korea's energy needs. And so that is also a proposal that is on the table if North Korea is prepared to make a strategic choice.

Finally, I would just note that we are concerned about the fate of the North Korean people. We understand that -- and support and respect North-South reconciliation efforts. The President came to South Korea a few years ago and talked about how important those efforts are. But in order to help the North Korean people who suffer much more than they ever should, the United States has been one of the largest humanitarian assistance donors to North Korea in terms of food aid. So, I think we have, even though we come obviously from different circumstances and we have a different relationship to North Korea, we have a very similar view of how to solve this problem.

QUESTION: (in Korean) My name is Kim Jejun (phonetic) from Monthly Mag. Now, Secretary Rice, you just mentioned recently that the United States has no intention of preemptive strike against North Korea. Now, such a principle held by the United States, how long will that continue?

Because I'm a reporter, I have met with the North Koreans for news coverage, and every time I met with them they said -- the North Korean people said that if the United States conducts a preemptive strike -- they fear a preemptive strike by the United States. And I could feel how much they live in fear. They truly believe that the United States might attack North Korea. So, in order to resolve this issue, I believe that North Korea is asking for the United States for a security assurance. Now, does the United States have any intentions to first provide a security assurance and bring North Korea back to the table? I think that is -- in my view that is the most reasonable approach. I would like to ask your view on the possibility of a -- of providing a security assurance first.

SECRETARY RICE: (inaudible) clearly to the North Koreans than to have the President of the United States say it, the Secretary of State, the last Secretary of State, me now as Secretary of State. We don't have any desire or intention to attack North Korea.

We have, in the Republic of Korea and with the U.S. alliance, a deterrent so that if North Korea were to ever try to attack South Korea, that we would have a deterrent against that. But we have absolutely no desire to attack North Korea. We have no reason to want to do so.

We understand that North Korea is a sovereign state. I said that in my speech in Japan just yesterday. So North Korea does not need to worry that the United States intends to attack it. And, in fact, probably the reason that you hear this from the North Korean people is this is what they're being told. Well, it is simply not true; the United States does not want to attack North Korea.

And by the way, the President said that when he came here, all the way back in 2002, I guess it was. So this has been a longstanding U.S. policy.

Now, as to security assurances, the issue here is: is North Korea prepared to give up its nuclear weapons? If it's prepared to give up its nuclear weapons, make that declaration, make that choice, and then provide verifiable ways to do that. We've already said that security assurances will be available through the Six Party context. They can have security assurances not only from us but from the other six parties as well, other members of the Six Parties as well. So there is a lot for North Korea that could benefit North Korea if they are prepared to come back to the Six Party talks and to do so seriously.

QUESTION: (in Korean) Good morning. I am (inaudible) from Media Today. Now, when Korean people hear your name, because your name "Rice," means "rice" literally here in Korea, people feel a familiarity. However, during your confirmation hearing, you mentioned about an outpost of tyranny when describing North Korea. So people predicted that the United States will take on a more hard-line policy.

But in Japan, and as you mentioned just now, you stated that the United States has no intention of invading North Korea. Does this have a different meaning from when you mentioned about the outpost of tyranny? I would like to hear your view on this.

SECRETARY RICE: (inaudible) going to speak up for people who live without freedom. It is who we are. And the President has made very clear that he believes that freedom is a universal value. Look at what has happened here in South Korea. Look at what you're able to say and what you're able to do. That's the essence of human dignity, is to be able to say what you think, to worship as you please, to educate your children, girls and boys. This is the essence of human dignity. No one should be denied that.

And so, the United States is never going to fail to speak out when people are held without those fundamental rights. And that is a worldwide principle for the United States.

But that has nothing to do with the issue of whether or not we use military force in the case of North Korea. The United States has been -- I think I said it to the gentleman here -- the largest food donor for a long time. I think now maybe we are the second largest food donor for the North Korean people, because we care about the plight of the North Korean people. But we have absolutely no intention or desire to attack North Korea.

So, when the North Koreans want to talk about rhetoric, what might have been said, I won't even say what the North Koreans say about the United States. Let's not even talk about that. But when they talk about what people say about them, they're trying to change the subject. They don't want to talk about the fact that Japan, China, Russia and South Korea and the United States are all saying to North Korea it is time to end your nuclear weapons programs and make a non-nuclear Korean Peninsula. That's why they want to talk about rhetoric.

QUESTION: (in Korean) Let me give you a question. Would that be all right? Let me first ask a question. Now, during your remarks, you said something -- you mentioned North Korea. And in North Korea's case, North Korea wants U.S. not to show rhetoric or state in mere words but also wants the United States to show in action, security assurance. Whereas, the United States wants North Korea to first give up, dismantle its nuclear weapon program and then the United States can provide aid to North Korea.

In Korea, people frequently say that the person who has more should yield first and provide something first to the other side. The United States compared to North Korea has much more power, has much more. So does the United States have any intention to providing something first to North Korea?

SECRETARY RICE: (inaudible) have a nuclear weapon. They're sitting on the Korean Peninsula in a region that has said that North Korea should not have a nuclear weapon. So let's remember that this is not between the United States and North Korea. The North Koreans would like for nothing better than for this to be between the United States and North Korea. This is also a matter of concern for Japan, for Russia, for China -- which has said there should be a non-nuclear Korean Peninsula -- and for South Korea. And so, it is not a matter of what the United States provides, it is a matter of what North Korea is willing to do.

We have talked about circumstances in which North Korea first needs to make a strategic choice. They need to come and say, we have decided that our interests, North Korean interests, are best served by an end to our nuclear weapons programs. We have even said that at that point, we could talk about what kinds of security assurances would be available. The North Koreans need only to make a strategic choice, and then there is a great deal that is available to them that has already been offered. And I would also note that back in 2002, when Assistant Secretary Jim Kelly went to North Korea, his plan had been to go to North Korea to talk about what he was calling or what we were calling a bold vision for U.S.-North Korean relations. And it was not too long before he left that we learned that the North Koreans had started violating the terms of the 1994 agreement.

So, the United States has been thinking for a long time about how to improve relations on the -- in the region between the various parties of the region, including relations with North Korea. But the North Koreans cannot continue to threaten that they are going to be a nuclear power and all of those things and expect people to respond positively.

QUESTION: (in Korean) My name is (inaudible) for Media Daum. It is a great pleasure to meet you. Now, you work in a bureaucracy filled with white majority, which the majority are white men. So what do you think is the ideal female leadership?

SECRETARY RICE: I very often am asked questions about do you act differently because you are a female or do you act differently because you're black. And I always say to people, I'm a package, I'm black and female and me. And so I can't separate out the pieces and say this part of me acts like that and that part of me acts like that.

I'm not sure that women in positions act necessarily different from men in those positions. I think I act as Condi Rice, and that's a person who is female and black and grew up in Alabama and lived in California and was a professor.

We're making a lot of progress in the United States. I'm actually the second woman to be Secretary of State in the United States, which is pretty amazing. I'm the second African American to be Secretary of State. And in fact, we've had -- the last three Secretaries of State have not been white men. So, I don't know. I don't know if that's starting to make them nervous or not. We should probably ask. But it is a testament to what can happen in a democracy over time.

You know, in the United States, when the country was founded in 1789, my ancestors were actually slaves. And my ancestors were considered in our Constitution to be only three-fifths of a man for voting purposes. And so, it just shows what can happen in democracy. And America is fortunate, it's a great multiethnic democracy. People have come from all over the world. There are a lot of Korean Americans who enrich our society. And it just shows what democracy can mean. And it's one reason that I believe that if democracy spreads, then a lot of the differences among peoples are going to be resolved. Thank you.

Who's up next?

QUESTION: (in Korean) I am Yee Jong Wu (phonetic) from the Voices of the People. I am sure you know that currently Korea and Japan are in confrontation due to the issue of occupation of the Dokdo Islands and also the history textbooks of Japan. And I think that this is because Japan is pursuing an expansion policy and is going towards a rightist movement.

You said officially that you endorse Japan becoming a Security Council member. So Koreans believe that the United States, instead of blocking Japan's such move towards expansion, it is endorsing and supporting it. So, I would like to ask your view on this. Is this true? And also, in the future, will the United States continue to support such expansion policy of Japan?

SECRETARY RICE: (inaudible) on the specific island matter. But let me explain that we have supported Japan's quest for a permanent seat on the Security Council for some time now. I think it was in August that Secretary Powell first talked about or support for Japan's Security Council membership.

The Japanese are the second largest contributor to the United Nations, really just right after the United States. That needs to be recognized. Japan is also playing a more global role in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is obviously our view that when Japan and the United States and South Korea are working together, we have demonstrated how much good we can do in a region like this, where the United States maintains an alliance with Japan, an alliance with South Korea, that has promoted peace and stability, not just on the Korean Peninsula but in the entire region.

And it is under that cooperative and alliance relationship that the United States has had with each of the countries that democratic development has taken place in both Japan and in South Korea, that economic prosperity has grown dramatically so that this region is leading in many ways the economic prosperity of the world, where we are able to deal with security problems like the North Korean nuclear problem together, and where the United States can count on its South Korean ally as a global friend and its Japanese ally as a global friend.

Now, I really believe that these great democracies can deal with issues as they emerge. And the world is different than it was in the 19th or 20th century. It's just very important to realize. I said in my speech in Japan that raw power of the kind that caused so much problem in the 19th century and the 20th century is not going to be the measure of how powerful you are in the 21st century; it is how strong are your values, how strong are your ideas, how strong is your economy, how much are you able to use the power of your ideas and your influence to change lives around the world.

We and the Japanese, for instance, talked about a strategic development alliance, because we are 40 percent of the world's development assistance. And that's a good thing. South Korea is an important development assistance -- in giving development assistance. We should be talking about what we can do for development assistance.

So, I think that the main point is that the democracies like Japan and South Korea are -- will be more than able to deal with their -- with issues as they arise. But if we start to think about how the 21st century is going to play out, it is going to be the power of ideas that really matters, and the power of democratic ideals that really matter.

QUESTION: (in Korean) I would like to ask a very simple question. Would it be all right to understand that the United States supports Japan's efforts to reform its peace constitution?

SECRETARY RICE: (inaudible) domestic affairs in Japan. Japan is a democracy; it can have that debate.

I would just remind you that democracies are constraining on what nations are able to do, on how much they can use force, on how much and how they relate to their neighbors. Democracies are constraining and Japan is a democracy, South Korea is a democracy. The best element that has emerged in this region now is that it is not left to a few to make decisions about war and peace, about any of these issues. And so, it is not left to a few in the United States to make those decisions.

The President of the United States has a Congress to whom he is responsible. So democracy is very important in also the development of a different kind of relationship between nations in the 19th -- in the 21st century as opposed to in the 19th century.

I'm sure that Japan and South Korea will deal with this. We're best when Japan -- we are at our best when Japan, South Korea and the United States are working together. And we're going to continue to work toward that.

QUESTION: (in Korean) Good morning. I'm a cartoon journalist for Media Daum. I would like to ask a follow-up question. Currently, related to the Japan-Korean issues, currently anti-Japanese sentiment is rising here in Korea. And the neighboring countries of Japan does not trust Japan as much as the United States trusts Japan. That is the general view here. And some people are saying that the United States' position toward Japan could lead -- could be connected with the anti-American sentiment here in Korea. So, are there any concerns on the U.S. side on these issues? And, if so, then how will this be reflected into the U.S. policies in the future?

SECRETARY RICE: (inaudible) good and deep relationship with South Korea, which is now, by the way, a relationship with a democracy, which has not always been the case.

And we are going to continue to talk about our very good and deep relationship with Japan, which is also a democracy and with also which we have good relations.

The United States in this region has managed to have good relations with everybody in the region. We have good relations with China, as well, despite the fact that we have differences with China about human rights and about religious freedom. We've managed to have constructive relations with China.

But our relations with Japan and our relations with South Korea go back now decades. They are based increasingly not just on our military alliances but on our alliance of values. They are based on the fact that we, together, are working to spread the benefits of liberty to other peoples.

When you look at what South Korea is, for instance, doing in Afghanistan -- I just came back from Afghanistan. This is a desperately poor country. You drive down a main street which is a paved road, but on both sides, there are shopkeepers sitting in the mud, quite literally, selling meat and selling dresses and selling little artifacts, almost anything they can find to sell. It's a desperately poor country. But three-and-a-half years ago, it was a country in which the Taliban took women into a soccer stadium and either beat them or executed them. None of us should consider that acceptable.

We're lucky. We live in free societies, where you can come here and you can say what you want and think what you want and you can ask me anything as the Secretary of State of the United States. And what a wonderful thing. But we shouldn't ignore what is happening to people who don't have those freedoms. It's not right. Because somebody fought for your freedom, somebody fought for my freedom. Somebody cared about the freedom of the South Korean people. Somebody cared about freedom in the United States.

And so, as you think about all of the issues that are out there, I would hope that you would keep in mind people like the people of Afghanistan, who are just now emerging as a free people. And that's why it's so important that South Korea is doing what it's doing in Afghanistan. It is the responsibility and the obligation of those of us who are lucky enough to be free not to forget those who are unlucky enough not to be free.

So, when I think about what we do with Japan or what we do with South Korea, I think not just about relations between them or relations in this region, but I think about what we're doing together to continue to spread freedom and liberty so that other people are as lucky as we are.

Anybody else? Yes.

QUESTION: (in Korean) Thank you. Whenever you speak, you talk about the values of democracy and freedom. Now, as the Secretary of State, who is in charge of foreign policies, I would like to ask your convictions in life, your beliefs. And also -- after the launch of the Bush Administration, what has been most emphasized is freedom and democracy. So, Secretary Rice, you're in charge of foreign relations and you are in charge of spreading such values around the world. But then, people have different cultures. And I don't know whether such values can be well received in all of these different cultures. So your views on this, and also your personal convictions and views.

SECRETARY RICE: (inaudible) anywhere who don't desire to be free. It used to be said that Asians didn't care about freedom, Asian values. Do you remember that debate? Asians didn't care about freedom. There was a time when people said about African Americans, about blacks, we didn't care about freedom, we needed to be taken care of. There was a time when Russians didn't care about freedom. There was a time when Arabs didn't care about freedom. But whenever you ask that -- whenever you are asked that or if people say that, just think about the following:

Is there anyone in the world who does not want to be able to say what they think? Is there anyone in the world who does not want to be able to worship as they please? Is there anyone in the world who does not want to educate their children, both boys and girls? Is there anyone in the world who looks forward to the knock of the secret police at their door at night? Is there anybody in the world who wants their government to be able to control each and every aspect of who they are? No, because to be human is to want to have control of your own life. And that's why freedom is important.

And so, I think when people say culture, their culture's way of freedom doesn't matter, it is almost patronizing to say that about other people. I care to be free, but your culture doesn't care about being free. I think it's really, really wrong.

And I know that the United States for more than 60 years engaged in that kind of thinking about the Middle East. Because we were prepared to turn a blind eye to the fact that people were not free in order to maintain stability in the Middle East. Well, we're not going to do that any longer.

Now, it doesn't mean that you can go around spreading freedom. I can't spread freedom. All I can do is speak for freedom. And people have to take it upon themselves to seek freedom.

If you look at what has happened in Afghanistan or Iraq or the Palestinian territories or Lebanon, people are taking control to say we want to be free. It is also true that democracy takes different forms in different places. Democracy does not look the same in the United States and South Korea or in Brazil or in Canada for that matter, or in any place in Europe. It looks different. But what is important is that people have these rights.

Do I have to leave? Oh, I'm sorry. Can I come back sometime? We'll do it again. Thank you.

QUESTION: (in Korean) One last question. Now, more than any time, there is a high anti-American sentiment here in Korea. So there is negative views or public opinion about the United States. What led to this negative public opinion is because of the death of the two school girls by a U.S. military armored vehicle.

After this incident, a majority of the Korean people has view that the United States is not a definite ally of Korea and the soldiers who committed the crime were released. They were not punished. So, such negative sentiments rose here in Korea.

S,o as a religious person, I understand that you are very religious, and as -- if you can put yourself in the shoes of the parents of those children, since this is being broadcast live through the Internet, could you apologize?

SECRETARY RICE: (inaudible) our deepest regret at what happened because the loss of a child has got to be one of the hardest things that can possibly happen to parents. And we would have never wanted anything like this to happen.

And so I would just, on behalf of the United States and on behalf of the President and on behalf of myself, say to the parents that it is -- it is with deepest regret for the United States that this happened.

Thank you. I have to go. I've got a meeting that I have to go to with your government, with the government. Can I go? Okay. All right. Thank you. (Applause.)

QUESTION: (in Korean) I have one last question.

SECRETARY RICE: I really have to go. Sorry. Okay, go ahead.

QUESTION: (in Korean) I'm in charge of news parody, or parody, poking fun, parody. I'm -- excuse me. This is the last question, truly. I'm in charge of news parody here in Korea. I am in charge of news parody here in Korea. So, there is some confrontation about the level of parody that is accepted. So how much of this parody or poking fun at politicians are accepted in the United States?

SECRETARY RICE: That's a very good question. Almost anything goes in the United States. You can parody people and government officials mercilessly in the United States. In fact, we have a dinner -- we have a dinner called the Gridiron Dinner in Washington, where the journalists get together and they put on little performances, little skits, about American officials. And they're very, very tough. So parody is fine.

Okay, I have to go. Okay. Bye-bye.


Released on March 20, 2005

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