Südkorea/USA/Japan — U.S., Japan, South Korea Express Solidarity

SINGAPORE — The top defense offi­cials of the Unit­ed States, Japan and South Korea today pledged their nations’ con­tin­ued sol­i­dar­i­ty in the after­math of North Korea’s sink­ing of the freighter Cheo­nan on March 26 that killed 46 South Kore­an sailors.

9th International Institute for Strategic Studies, The Shangri-La Dialogue
Repub­lic of Korea Defense Min­is­ter Kim Tae Young, left, U.S. Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates and Japan­ese Defense Min­is­ter Toshi­mi Kitaza­wa shake hands dur­ing a tri­lat­er­al meet­ing at the 9th Inter­na­tion­al Insti­tute for Strate­gic Stud­ies, The Shangri-La Dia­logue, in Sin­ga­pore, June 5, 2010.
DoD pho­to by U.S. Air Force Mas­ter Sgt. Jer­ry Mor­ri­son
Click to enlarge

U.S. Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates, Japan­ese Defense Min­is­ter Toshi­mi Kitaza­wa and South Kore­an Defense Min­is­ter Kim Tae-young made brief state­ments before their tri­lat­er­al meet­ing as part of the “Shangri-La Dia­logue” Asia secu­ri­ty sum­mit here.

Gates not­ed that the first such meet­ing took place dur­ing last year’s Shangri-La Dia­logue, and said it proved to be an ide­al forum for dis­cussing a range of com­mon secu­ri­ty inter­ests.

“Obvi­ous­ly, today’s con­ver­sa­tion, like last year’s, will large­ly focus on North Korea and its ongo­ing threat to region­al sta­bil­i­ty, as high­light­ed by the unpro­voked attack on the Cheo­nan,” the sec­re­tary said.

Gates said he told Kim yes­ter­day and reit­er­at­ed to South Kore­an Pres­i­dent Lee Myung-bak today that “the Unit­ed States stands by and stead­fast­ly sup­ports our ally,” and added that he’s pleased Japan also has stood by South Korea in response to the inci­dent.

“Attacks like that on the Cheo­nan under­mine the peace and sta­bil­i­ty of not just the Kore­an penin­su­la, but the region as a whole,” he said. “To do noth­ing would set the wrong prece­dent. The inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty can and must hold North Korea account­able. The Unit­ed States will con­tin­ue to work with the Repub­lic of Korea, Japan and our oth­er part­ners to fig­ure out the best way to do just that.”

Speak­ing through a trans­la­tor, Kitaza­wa not­ed the impor­tance of today’s tri­lat­er­al meet­ing against the back­drop of ris­ing ten­sion on the Kore­an penin­su­la.

“I trust that this will serve as a strong mes­sage to the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty as well as to North Korea,” he said, “and I very much hope that the three coun­tries will be able to show our strong deter­mi­na­tion.”

Also speak­ing through a trans­la­tor, Kim expressed delight that the three defense lead­ers could meet here again, as they did last year.

“I also believe that we are cre­at­ing great momen­tum, espe­cial­ly at a time when the secu­ri­ty sit­u­a­tion in the penin­su­la and the region are so sen­si­tive,” he said. He added that through the Cheo­nan inci­dent, the three nations are able to fur­ther strength­en their secu­ri­ty coop­er­a­tion ties through close coor­di­na­tion and coop­er­a­tion.

Kim thanked the Unit­ed States and Japan for their sup­port of South Korea. “And I would like to ask you again for your con­tin­ued coop­er­a­tion and sup­port as we take this mat­ter to the Unit­ed Nations Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil, and as we take oth­er mea­sures as well,” he added.

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