Secretary Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Republic of Korea President Moon Jae-in Before Their Meeting

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

Seoul, Korea

Blue House

PRESIDENT MOON:  (Via interpreter)  (In progress) The Republic of Korea was chosen in the Biden-Harris administration’s first cabinet-level overseas trip, and the fact that you two are visiting Korea demonstrates that the Biden-Harris administration (inaudible).

We welcome America’s return, the return of diplomacy and revitalization of alliances with the launch of the Biden administration.  The international community has (inaudible) look forward to America’s leadership in the midst of multiple crises.  For Korea also, we also expect that this will be an opportunity to further strengthen the ROK-U.S. Alliance and advance bilateral relationship.

I feel the situation in America is rapidly stabilizing, thanks to the special rollout of vaccines.  Moreover, applications for America’s economic recovery are increasing with the historic stimulus package.  I believe these achievements are a testament to the Biden administration’s leadership, (inaudible) my congratulations on your move forward swiftly in Building Back Better, and I look forward to working with you to create a better future together.

As a 70-year partner to the United States this year, core values and basic ideals such as democracy and human rights, Korea is ready to work with the U.S. to meet common challenges.  In particular, we will continue to coordinate closely with no daylight between us for complete denuclearization of and establishing lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.

We had a separate ministerial with you yesterday, and today a 2+2 ministerial meeting took place for the first time in five years.  A Special Measures Agreement was initialed as well.  For a significant (inaudible) for a solid foundation has been made for the stable development of the ROK-U.S. Alliance at the beginning of the Biden administration.  I am sure that the people of our two countries would also feel reassured with the reinforcement of our alliance, which has been a linchpin of peace and prosperity of the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia.

Thank you, Secretaries, for all your efforts and contributions, and going forward, I hope we will continue to communicate and work closely with my ministers.  Thank you very much.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Mr. President, thank you so much for receiving me today.  I bring you warm greetings from President Biden.  He so appreciated you (inaudible) conversation (inaudible).

And as you said, Mr. President, it’s no accident that the first trip that the Secretary of Defense and I are making is here to Korea.  President Biden wanted us to underscore the importance that we attach to the alliance with South Korea and to the work that we are doing together, not just to reaffirm that alliance but to build on it for the future.

And as you rightly said, Mr. President, we both (inaudible) alliance is the linchpin for peace, security and prosperity in this region and beyond, and I think it’s a bold choice of words because the linchpin pulls things together, and you’ve done a very good job (inaudible).

And you know that we had a very good working meeting with our colleagues and we so appreciated the work that went into that meeting, the work that our teams have done, and I think we had – both had a very good exchange today but also a very strong work plan for the coming weeks and months.

And finally, let me just commend you for the remarkable leadership of South Korea in dealing with COVID-19.  We’re inspired by the work that you’ve done and we really appreciate the assistance you provided the United States from early on.  And whether it’s COVID-19, whether it’s climate change, whether it’s issues of peace and security, we take great comfort in the alliance that we have and partnership that we have with you.

And again, thank you for receiving me.

SECRETARY AUSTIN:  Mr. President, thank you for your warm welcome, and thank you to the people of the Republic of Korea for their gracious hospitality.  It is indeed an honor to be in Seoul among friends.  I am grateful to be joined by my colleague Secretary of State Blinken as we carry President Biden’s message of our strong commitment to our allies and to our partners.

And you’ve heard us say individually a number of times since we’ve been here that our commitment to the U.S.-ROK Alliance is ironclad.  And I certainly echo Secretary Blinken’s comment that this alliance is a linchpin of peace, security and prosperity, and absolutely critical to a free and open Indo-Pacific.

In the face of today’s shifting global dynamics, this alliance is important now more than ever.  And so I look forward to working with my counterpart, the Minister of Defense, Minister Suh, to ensure that our forces remain ever ready to buttress the important work of our diplomats, Minister Chung and Secretary Blinken.

It is a great pleasure to be here, Mr. President.  Thank you again for your gracious hospitality.  Kamsahamnida.

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