Gates Consults With South Korea on North’s Provocations

SEOUL, South Korea, Jan. 14, 2011 — Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates vis­it­ed South Kore­an lead­ers here today to demon­strate Amer­i­can sol­i­dar­i­ty against North Kore­an provo­ca­tions. North Korea sank the South Kore­an ship Cheo­nan in March, killing 46 sailors. In Novem­ber, North Korea shelled the South Kore­an island of Yeong­pe­ong, killing two civil­ians and two South Kore­an marines.

“We are all con­cerned about the tense sit­u­a­tion on the penin­su­la caused by North Korea’s con­tin­ued bel­liger­ence and repeat­ed provo­ca­tions over the past few months,” Gates said at the begin­ning of a meet­ing with Defense Min­is­ter Kim Kwan-jin.

Dur­ing the meet­ing, Gates and Kim dis­cussed South Korean‑U.S. mil­i­tary coor­di­na­tion and con­sul­ta­tions to deter future provo­ca­tions.

Gates said diplo­mat­ic engage­ment is pos­si­ble, start­ing with direct engage­ment between North Korea and South Korea, but only if “North Korea’s actions show cause to believe that nego­ti­a­tions can be pro­duc­tive and con­duct­ed in good faith.”

Fol­low­ing the meet­ing with Kim, Gates trav­eled to the Blue House and met with South Kore­an Pres­i­dent Lee Myung-bak. He spoke to both Kim and Lee about his meet­ings with Chi­nese and Japan­ese lead­ers.

Ear­li­er in the week, Gates said a mora­to­ri­um on nuclear research and test­ing and a mora­to­ri­um on build­ing inter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­siles would be exam­ples of con­crete steps North Korea could take. Only with these con­crete steps, he added, could the Six-Par­ty Talks — with the Unit­ed States, Chi­na, Rus­sia, Japan, South Korea and North Korea — resume.

“But the [North Kore­an] lead­er­ship must stop these dan­ger­ous provo­ca­tions and take con­crete steps to show that they will begin meet­ing inter­na­tion­al oblig­a­tions,” Gates said.

The Six-Par­ty Talks began in 2003 after North Korea with­drew from the Nuclear Non­pro­lif­er­a­tion Treaty. In response to a Unit­ed Nations Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil pres­i­den­tial state­ment in April 2009 con­demn­ing a failed satel­lite launch, North Korea pulled out of the talks and announced it would resume its nuclear enrich­ment pro­gram.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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