USA/South Korea — Clinton, Gates Reaffirm U.S. Commitment to South Korea

PANMUNJOM, South Korea, July 21, 2010 — Sec­re­tary of State Hillary Rod­ham Clin­ton and Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates reaf­firmed the U.S. com­mit­ment to South Korea today dur­ing a vis­it to the demil­i­ta­rized zone that sep­a­rates the U.S. ally from its com­mu­nist neigh­bor to the north.

Observation Point Ouellette
Sec­re­tary of State Hillary Rod­ham Clin­ton and Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates look out over North Korea from Obser­va­tion Point Ouel­lette dur­ing a tour at the Demil­i­ta­rized Zone that sep­a­rates South and North Korea, July 21, 2010.
Defense Depart­ment pho­to by Cherie Cullen
Click to enlarge

The two Cab­i­net sec­re­taries are in the coun­try to meet with their South Kore­an coun­ter­parts in the first “2‑plus‑2 Talks” between the two nations today.

Clin­ton and Gates looked through binoc­u­lars toward North Korea from the Ouel­lette Obser­va­tion Post, a sand-bagged hill­top perch manned by U.S. and South Kore­an sol­diers, and vis­it­ed “T‑2,” a small Mil­i­tary Armistice Com­mis­sion build­ing paint­ed in Unit­ed Nations blue that’s half in South Korea and half in North Korea. The build­ing has entrances on both sides, and exists for talks between the North and South.

Gates said this was his third vis­it to the demil­i­ta­rized zone, but his first since he was CIA direc­tor

“In the near­ly 20 years since I last climbed that obser­va­tion tow­er and looked out across the DMZ,” he said, “it is stun­ning how lit­tle has changed up there and yet how much South Korea con­tin­ues to grow and pros­per. The North, by con­trast, stag­nates in iso­la­tion and depri­va­tion. And as we saw with the sink­ing of the Cheo­nan, it con­tin­ues its his­to­ry of unpre­dictable and, at times, provoca­tive behav­ior.”

North Korea’s sink­ing of the frigate Cheo­nan killed 46 South Kore­an sailors in March.

Gates said he and Clin­ton are in South Korea to demon­strate their appre­ci­a­tion to U.S., South Kore­an and oth­er forces that work to main­tain peace on the penin­su­la and also “to send a strong sig­nal to the North, to the region and to the world that our com­mit­ment to South Korea’s secu­ri­ty is stead­fast. In fact, our mil­i­tary alliance has nev­er been stronger, and it should deter any poten­tial aggres­sor.”

Clin­ton said this was her first vis­it to the demil­i­ta­rized zone.

“As we were at the obser­va­tion post look­ing out at what is a thin, three-mile sep­a­ra­tion between the North and the South,” she said, “it struck me that although it may be a thin line, these two places are worlds apart.

“The Repub­lic of Korea has made extra­or­di­nary progress,” she con­tin­ued. “It has lead­ers who care about the well-being of the peo­ple. It has an econ­o­my that is grow­ing and cre­at­ing jobs and oppor­tu­ni­ties. It has a com­mit­ment to com­mon val­ues of democ­ra­cy and free­dom. By con­trast, the North has not only stag­nat­ed in iso­la­tion, but the peo­ple of the North have suf­fered for so many years.”

Clin­ton expressed grat­i­tude to the U.S., South Kore­an and inter­na­tion­al forces that have helped to pro­tect South Korea for six decades.

“At the same time,” she added, “we con­tin­ue to send a mes­sage to the North: ‘There is anoth­er way. There is a way that can ben­e­fit the peo­ple of the North.’ But until they change direc­tion, the Unit­ed States stands firm­ly on behalf of the peo­ple and gov­ern­ment of the Repub­lic of Korea, where we pro­vide a stal­wart defense along with our allies and part­ners.” Lat­er, Clin­ton and Gates attend­ed a cer­e­mo­ny in the South Kore­an cap­i­tal of Seoul com­mem­o­rat­ing the 60th anniver­sary of the start of the Kore­an War before con­ven­ing with their coun­ter­parts – For­eign Min­is­ter Yu Myung-hwan and Defense Min­is­ter Kim Tae-young — for the 2‑plus‑2 Talks.

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

Team GlobDef

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist GlobalDefence.net im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. GlobalDefenc.net war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →