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Colin L. Powell and Korean FM Ban Ki-Moon

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-Moon

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Seoul, Republic of Korea
October 26, 2004

FOREIGN MINISTER BAN: (in Korean) Just now, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and I held an ROK-US Foreign Ministers meeting. Directly following the meeting session, we had a luncheon together, and discussed a wide range of issues of mutual interest. First, Secretary Powell and I shared a common view that the ROK-US alliance is as strong as ever under the close cooperative relationship between our two governments.

In addition, we took note that the issues concerning the alliance relationship, such as the redeployment of US Forces in Korea, are being handled smoothly under close coordination between our two countries. We agreed to further enhance our cooperation under various security, economic, social and cultural-related areas, so that ROK-US relations can progress into a comprehensive and dynamic alliance relationship. In particular, we also discussed about measures to adopt a visa exemption agreement in the future to increase exchange between our two countries.

In this regard, we took note of the summit meeting held in May of last year between our two presidents. We look forward to the upcoming APEC summit meetings that will be held in October. We agreed that the summits will continue with our close alliance relationship to further enhance our close ties.

In regard to the six-party talks, although the fourth round has not been convened yet, both of our countries agree to continue to work in close coordination so that the six-party talks can be reconvened expeditiously.

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With regard to the North Korean Human Rights Act, Secretary Powell emphasized once again that this act has been adopted for humanitarian reasons, to improve the human rights situation in North Korea. We have agreed to closely cooperate so that this act will be implemented in a direction which will bring about real improvements to North Korea's human rights and contribute to peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.

With regard to the past experiments on nuclear materials by South Korean scientists, I once again explained in detail the characteristics of these experiments. I also emphasized that we are handling this matter in a transparent manner with full cooperation with the IAEA and the international community, so that we could attain mutually satisfactory results. Secretary Powell has also emphasized that our government has been transparent in our deals with this issue and we will continue with our peaceful use of nuclear energy.

Secretary Powell explained the current situation in Iraq in which the first elections will be held in January of next year. He once again expressed his appreciation for the contribution of the ROK towards peace and rebuilding in Iraq. Furthermore, Secretary Powell expressed appreciation for the full support of the ROK regarding the war against terrorism.

Last week, Secretary Powell and I shared a common view to continue with the efforts to adopt the ROK-US BIT and FTA for further progress in our bilateral economic and commercial relations. Thank you.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you very much, Mr. Minister. It's a great pleasure for me to be back in Korea. I have visited Korea many times over the last 30 years and I made my first visit as a battalion commander, in Panmunjom; I lived here for a year.

I continue to be deeply impressed with the progress that has been made in South Korea for putting in place a firm and capable democracy, the economic development that's taking place in South Korea, which has made an example for the rest of the region and the rest of the world.

I'm pleased on this occasion to have the opportunity to meet with my good friend Minister Ban and I also had good exchanges with President Roh and with Unification Minister Chung.

The productive dialogue I have had today with all three of these gentlemen reflects the strength of our alliance and our close partnership arranged in a range of endeavors, as well as the economic and personal ties that bind our two countries together.

Today I made clear that the United States is committed to working even harder with Korea to deepen and broaden our existing relations. We want to raise our level of strategic dialogue to a new level, a new plateau.

As the Minister noted, I expressed my deep appreciation for the Republic of Korea's vital contribution to the global war on terror. This includes vital participation in the coalitions in Iraq and Afghanistan. We greatly value the personal leadership of President Roh, Foreign Minister Ban, and other members of the Korean government have shown (inaudible) contribute to these efforts, as well as the personal sacrifices made by Korea's soldiers and civilians who are serving there.

In all of these conversations, we discussed our shared commitment to a peaceful, denuclearized Korean Peninsula. We agree to continue to devote a maximum effort to achieving this goal through multilateral diplomacy in the six-party talks. We will remain in close touch on how we can move forward despite North Korea's failure to follow through so far on its commitment to participate in the fourth round of the six-party talks.

I also expressed my appreciation for the progress we have made in realigning the US troop presence here and consolidating our bases. These changes, decided through months of close consultations, will return valuable urban land to our Korean hosts that will allow us to adapt to the new international circumstances and take advantage of new military technology, while providing a consistent and robust deterrent capability here on the peninsula.

The Minister has already touched on all the subjects that we discussed, so I will just close by once again thanking you Minister for your hospitality (inaudible).

QUESTION: (in Korean) I'd to ask both Minister Ban and also Secretary Powell a question respectively.

To Secretary Powell, whether Secretary Powell asked Minister Ban with respect to the extension of ROK troops in Iraq. Question number two would be, after this Iraq issue, there will be a lot of issues that have to be resolved with respect to the relocation of the Yongsan base and also other realignments of the US forces in (inaudible), despite the political and economic difficulties that South Korea has been suffering in the spirit of the true alliance between the two countries. My question is whether Secretary Powell would be willing, or the United States would be willing, to remove the request for the (inaudible) involved in the supporting C4I with respect to SMA?

FOREIGN MINISTER BAN: (in Korean) With regard to the first question, during the meeting today Secretary Powell has not officially requested the extension of Korean troops in Zaytun and I would like make this point clear.

SECRETARY POWELL: With respect to the second question, we understand that there will be political and economic costs associated with the relocation of forces, but the net benefit to our forces and to the Korean people will be such that I think it will be worth the political and economic costs. We will have to spend a great deal of time in close consultations with each other determining how these costs will be distributed, especially the costs associated with the SMA. The SMA has been an important arrangement that has facilitated our presence in the peninsula. But, with these deployments that we agreed upon to change the force posture, obviously, we will have to examine the SMA and renegotiate it. We look forward to beginning these discussions in the very near future, principally between our military authorities and the Ministry of Defense.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, did the alleged infiltration attempt by the North Koreans through the DMZ come up in your discussion this morning? If so, could you tell us what you can about the nature of those discussions and your personal reaction to the disclosure?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, the only thing I It did not come up in our discussions. I got word earlier this morning and reconfirmed a few moments ago that there is an apparent small breach in the wire system coming south out of the DMZ and its being looked into. And, that's the extent of the information I have.

QUESTION: (in Korean) My name is Kang Tae-ho from the newspaper called Hankyoreh Shinmun. My question is in regards to the six-party process. I understand all the participants in the process are hoping to have a resumption of the talks within this year. My question is: through your visits to Korea, Japan and China, whether you ever discussed the timeline for the next round of the six-party talks? And the second part of the question is: North Korea proposed what is called "freeze for compensation." I understand the United States is not participating in this proposal and if that proposal, that freeze proposal should include, as the United States wants, peaceful nuclear activities in North Korea, in my view that suspension should be compensated. I'd like to hear your position on this matter and whether the US is making changes in its position with respect to this proposal for freeze for compensation.

SECRETARY POWELL: In my conversations here in Seoul, as well as in my conversations in Beijing and in Tokyo over the last couple of days, currently everybody wants to see the next round of six-party talks get started. We are all together, the three of us, plus I think I can speak for Russia, as well, believing that this is the time to move forward to bring this matter to a conclusion, and frankly, as a result of bringing this matter to a conclusion, putting us all in a position to help the North Korean people, and to help the North Korean people to a better life, providing food sufficiency for them and the other needs that they have as a people and as a nation.

We don't intend to attack North Korea. We have no hostile intent, (inaudible). In fact, it is this nuclear issue that is keeping the international community from assisting North Korea. So, we would like to see the talks get underway again as quickly as possible. And that's the message that I'm carrying back to President Bush from all of us here in Seoul, in Tokyo and in Beijing, and I'm sure that the Russians are of the same view.

Let's get going. We were ready in September. We were ready in October. The North Koreans elected to hold back and keep putting forward conditions to talks. We hope that in the very near future the North Koreans will see that it is their interest to have the talks started again.

At the last round of talks, the United States put forward a new position, which we believe was a balanced position, showing flexibility on our side as we all try to deal with the concerns raised by the DPRK. It was a proposal that was welcomed by our partners in this effort. We are waiting for a response from all of the parties, including North Korea. We hope that we'll receive it at the next round of talks. And our position is clearly laid out and what we can't do is lay out a position and have it immediately rejected by the North Koreans and then ask for yet another position. This is not the way to negotiate. The way to negotiate is for all of us to get together again in the six-party format and discuss all outstanding issues.

QUESTION: I'm Barbara Slavin with USA Today. I'd like to follow on the question of my South Korean colleague. Minister Ban, I'd like to ask you whether you urged Secretary Powell to show greater flexibility in the US proposal. I know that the Chinese have said that they did, and would like the United States to participate in the immediate compensation to North Korea, perhaps by paying administrative costs, did you raise this? Mr. Secretary, would you be willing to consider it despite what you just said? And also on the human rights law, I would ask, Minister Ban, whether you think this new law is going to help or hurt efforts to bring the North Koreans back to the negotiations.

FOREIGN MINISTER BAN: (in Korean) With regard to your first question about whether there was a detailed proposal on the resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue, last June, the Republic of Korea, the United States and the DPRK had tabled their respective, detailed proposals on these first steps.

The US proposal, as Assistant Secretary Kelly has revealed in the past, is based on a close consultation with the ROK and the other concerned countries. In order to resolve the nuclear issue and to hold the fourth round of talks in an expeditious manner, I proposed to Secretary Powell that not only the efforts of the ROK and the US are important, but also the efforts of the other countries are also important to urge the DPRK to come back to the table. So, this was the proposal that I made and Secretary Powell was also of a similar view.

With regard to the North Korean Human Rights Act, my government is of the view that human rights is a universal value, which should be upheld by all humanity, and that human rights should be upheld anywhere in the world. That was the first point, the second point is: my government also has a great deal of interest with regard to the issue of human rights. The third is that, with regard to a particular country, whether it might be the DPRK, the particular situations of that particular country have to be taken into account when we deal with these kinds of issues. Lastly, this matter should not have a negative effect on the current South-North talks that are going on and also the six-party talks process. This kind of view that the ROK and US have agreed to work in close consultations with regard to this issue, and Secretary Powell has also a very similar view with what I just mentioned.

SECRETARY POWELL: With respect to your question on changing our proposal, we had a good proposal on the table. We modified it for the third round of six-party talks, showing flexibility in trying to accommodate the interests of the other parties. The way to move forward is to have the next round of six-party talks so that we can discuss that proposal and not have negotiations with ourselves at press conferences.

FOREIGN MINISTER BAN: (in Korean) Due to the time constraints, the press conference will be over now.




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