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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and
Hong Soon-Young, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Republic of Korea

Press Availability Following Their Meeting
May 17, 1999, Washington, D.C.
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
Blue Line

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Good afternoon. My meeting, which just concluded, with Foreign Minister Hong was very productive, and I'm looking forward to continuing our discussion at a working lunch, which is about to follow.

I'm pleased to say that the alliance between the Republic of Korea and the United States is stronger than ever, as we work together to promote mutual prosperity, preserve regional stability and defend democratic values around the world.

This morning, Foreign Minister Hong and I reviewed the security situation on the Korean Peninsula, and I reaffirmed America's commitment to South Korea's defense. The United States regards President Kim's efforts to revive the North-South dialogue as an essential step toward a lasting peace. The Four-Party process supports and complements this bilateral dialogue. Both require patience and determination.

During our meeting, Foreign Minister Hong reaffirmed South Korea's support for the agreed framework and for KEDO, which are essential parts of our joint approach to the North. I informed the Foreign Minister of the U.S. decision to donate 400,000 metric tons of emergency humanitarian food aid to the World Food Program for North Korea, in response to the World Food Program's April appeal.

We also discussed former Defense Secretary Perry's review of our North Korea policy. Our two countries have worked closely throughout this review, and will continue to do so during its implementation. At the working lunch, we will address a variety of issues that reflect the increasingly broad partnership between Korea and the United States. For example, the Korean Government and people have responded courageously to the international financial crisis, and I'm pleased that the Korean economy is expected to start growing again this year. As a trading partner and as a friend, the United States will continue to do all it can to help.

In this regard, we welcome President Kim's determined efforts to open Korea to more trade and investment. Our two governments are working intensively to conclude a bilateral investment treaty, which could help create jobs and improve standards of living in both countries. Foreign Minister Hong and I also plan to discuss ways to encourage representative democracy and respect for human rights in nations across the Asia-Pacific and around the globe. I will express my appreciation for Korea's support for NATO's campaign against ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. We did cheat a bit and talked about that this morning already, and will continue to do so at lunch.

This is a time of change and some uncertainty around the world, but there should be no uncertainty about the health of the U.S.-Korean alliance, the firmness of our joint commitment to democracy and prosperity, and the depth of friendship that links our two peoples.

Mr. Minister.

FOREIGN MINISTER HONG: Thank you very much, Madame Secretary, for your invitation to me. I am glad that I have come to Washington, D.C., at this time. It turned out that my purpose of coming to Washington is to divert your attention also to Korea, not exclusively on the Kosovo situation. I'm glad I've come at this time.

Secretary Albright mentioned we had a very fruitful meeting this morning. The main topic of our discussion was our North Korea policies; in particular, the ongoing North Korea policy review by Dr. Perry. We both agreed that engagement policy is practically the only viable option for us to pursue, and exchanged views on how to fine-tune our approaches to achieve the desired result.

Tension on the Korean Peninsula is a structure in this nature. So the issue-by-issue approach cannot lead it to its fundamental solution. It is for this reason that President Kim Dae-Jung has proposed to cope with North Korea's challenges in a comprehensive manner. We hope that this new approach will put an end to the Cold War structure on the Korean Peninsula and facilitate the South-North peaceful coexistence.

The Secretary and I agreed that this approach should be pursued as a joint undertaking by Korea, the United States and Japan and soon hope that North Korea would respond positively to our proposal. North Korea is well-advised to seize this opportunity of Dr. Perry's forthcoming visit to Pyongyang. We expressed our shared satisfaction over the very close coordination on this and other issues of common interest and agree to continue such close coordination in the future.

We reaffirmed that our North Korea policies should be firmly underpinned by the robust ROK-U.S. security alliance. We also agreed that our deterrence in the Korean Peninsula should not be affected by the (inaudible) situation in Kosovo. I am relieved and satisfied to hear that the United States has taken all the compensatory measures to keep the deterrence level in place in the Korean Peninsula. I am also grateful and I also appreciate what the U.S. organization has done in compliance with the appeal for food aid to North Korea. The U.S. Administration just made a big announcement that it will come up with the food aid program to North Korea.

Another topic in our meeting this morning was President Kim Dae-Jung's visit to the United States, scheduled for summer. I am confident that the forthcoming visit will serve to reaffirm that our two countries are now genuine partners sharing a strong economic bond and a firm belief in democracy and the market economy.

During the meeting, I explained how Korea's economy has been recovering from the crisis and emphasized my government's strenuous efforts to undertake the across-the-board economic reform. Secretary Albright kindly reassured me of your support for Korea's endeavor in this regard.

Once again, I thank the Secretary for the warm hospitality and look forward to our continued conversation during the lunch time. Thank you very much.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Let me say that we have been working very closely with the Republic of Korea in terms of assessing how "sunshine"-- or engagement policy -- is part of our overall approach. We do think that there is value of looking at a way to proceed on the basis of a cooperative approach in how we deal with the DPRK, and that it be very much a part of Dr. Perry's review. Discussions of how we integrate the engagement policy within our overall approach is clearly part of the discussion. We are supportive of President Kim Dae-Jung's views and interested in his approach to this. He clearly has a great deal at stake in it, as do we.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) Dr. Perry's visit? And also I have a question to Madame Secretary. What is your prospect for the upcoming Dr. Perry visit?

FOREIGN MINISTER HONG: The date of Dr. Perry's visit to Pyongyang has not been set yet; but I hope it is forthcoming soon. Dr. Perry will carry a comprehensive package proposal to Pyongyang. It is full of attractions and full of incentives. But it is a package of incentives and disincentives and a package of carrots and sticks. I hope North Korea will find it attractive enough to respond positively and that this is, indeed, a rare, precious opportunity to be seized by North Korea so that there would be lasting peace in the Korean Peninsula. Probably Dr. Perry's mission to Pyongyang will be recorded as a milestone event in the history of inter-Korean relations. So I pin my hope on Dr. Perry's mission to Pyongyang.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Let me say that clearly Dr. Perry has stated publicly in the past that he would be willing to go to Pyongyang under the right circumstances, and he is prepared to do so. As the Foreign Minister has said, it is an important part of the review process, but there is no date for it. And as I've said, the circumstances-- it would be valuable for him to go, but we have to make sure that all the circumstances are correct.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, there is a report just out that a former Australian Government official has been charged with trying to sell U.S. defense secrets. I wonder if you know anything about this report and how concerned you are about it? And also, if I can take this opportunity to ask you to respond to the Cox Report, which is expected to be released soon, which apparently has concluded that the Chinese stole nuclear secrets from the U.S. and that the U.S. national security has been damaged by this.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: On the first issue, I was informed that such a problem existed but I have no comment on it. It's an intelligence issue.

On the second, let me say that obviously we have spoken in the past about the seriousness -- I have not seen the Cox Report -- about the seriousness of the issue. We are vigilant about everything that we have heard. We also are aware that, as many members of the Administration have said, that a number of countries are always looking for ways to acquire what we have. But we are vigilant about it. We are obviously taking it very seriously. The President and every one of us is taking the allegations very seriously and we are vigilant; and steps have been taken, as you know, to assure greater vigilance at the labs.

QUESTION: My question is directed to Madame Secretary Albright. When Dr. William Perry gets to visit North Korea very soon, as the Foreign Minister stated, do you think he'll have a chance to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jung-Il? And secondly, will he be carrying any letter or any other form of message from President Clinton intended for North Korean leaders?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Let me say that I think that it is not useful to speculate more about Dr. Perry's visit. As I've said, the visit will take place when the circumstances are correct, and if and when it can do the most good with respect to the purposes of the review and our cooperation with the Republic of Korea, as well as Japan. I think that it is very important to keep in mind that this could be a valuable part of the review. But I am not going to speculate further on the time or content of the visit.

QUESTION: A very quick follow up -- do you think Dr. William Perry has gotten an invitation to meet with the North Korean leader yet?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I said I was not going to speculate further on it.

QUESTION: Secretary Albright, circumstances have changed since Perry's report came out in the mass media. North Koreans are coming to the table for the Four Party meeting and underground facilities are open to investigation. In the south, Kim Dae-Jung maintains his sunshine policy. More importantly, the American audience is captured by the Kosovo crisis. What is the value or timing of the report in this context?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: The terrorism?

QUESTION: Perry's report.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: First of all, I think that the reports are done on the basis of a previous plan of what is requested and when it is required to put out various reports; so there is no connection. I don't know if we are talking about the same thing. We did put out also a report on the atrocities that have taken place in Kosovo. That clearly is timed to what is going on in Kosovo.

Let me also say, to underline something that Foreign Minister Hong said, that while we are obviously very concerned with the situation in Kosovo and very grateful for the Republic of Korea's support for what we are doing, we do not take our eye off other parts of the world. The United States is a global power with global responsibilities and a diplomatic and military operation that is capable of doing more than one thing at a time.

I think it is very important -- and we had this discussion bilaterally -- to assure the people of Korea that the U.S. has taken and will continue to take all necessary steps in order to make sure that our deterrence is as always. Foreign Minister Hong also met with Secretary Cohen, and has been assured on that subject. I can just assure generally that we are very able to carry on a number of activities at the same time.

Thank you.

[End of Document]

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