|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Remarks on the Occasion of the Visit of His Excellency Vice Marshall Jo Myong Rok
10/10/2000, Washington, D.C.
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Mr. Vice Marshall, members of the delegation from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, excellencies from the diplomatic corps, distinguished senators and representatives from Capitol Hill, colleagues and guests, good evening and welcome to the Department of State.
We gather tonight in friendship with all the people of Korea to greet Chairman Kim Jong Il's Special Envoy Vice Marshall Jo Myong Rok, along with first Vice Foreign Minister Kang Sok Ju and their colleagues upon their historic visit to Washington.
This first ever high-level visit from Pyongyang is another remarkable development in what has been a remarkable period. And may I depart from my prepared remarks to say what an incredible week this has been. The first, we were able to cheer on the fact that we have a new Yugoslavia with President Kostunica.
Then we have been dealing with the very difficult issues in the Middle East that have occupied us literally day and night. And now we have this remarkable visit. Clearly, this job has ups and downs.
(Laughter and Applause.)
But this is a historic meeting and dinner and time, and I am so very glad to be able to welcome this distinguished group here.
Within the past four months, we have seen the two Korean leaders meet, dialogues begin between the economic, cultural and defense ministers of North and South, and easing of tensions along the DMZ, an unprecedented display of unity at the Olympic Games and participation by Pyongyang in the ASEAN regional forum.
The United States strongly supports efforts by Korean leaders to move in the direction of reconciliation, stability and peace, and I hope that our meetings here this week will improve the climate for further progress.
In most of the world, the Cold War ended a decade ago. On the Korean Peninsula, it has lingered. But what was frozen can thaw, and what has been contested ground can, over time, become common ground.
There can be no doubt that solutions are possible to the security, political and economic differences that exist between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea, between the DPRK and the United States, and in the region more broadly.
But to find these solutions we must search for them mutually, persistently, and in good faith. The United States is fully committed to this quest. Vice Marshall's Jo's presence here this week is an important and positive expression on Pyongyang's intentions as well.
President Clinton and Chairman Kim Jong Il have both made clear that hostility between our two nations is not inevitable, nor desired by our citizens, nor in the interests of our countries. And that is why we must seize the opportunity to take the concrete steps required to open a new and more hopeful chapter in our relations.
In that connection, I want to acknowledge the presence here tonight of Dr. William Perry, our former Secretary of Defense who traveled on behalf of President Clinton to North Korea last year. His mission was to determine whether it was possible to begin this process of seeking better and more normal ties. Dr. Perry was cordially received in Pyongyang, and the productive discussions he held there helped set the stage for this extraordinary evening.
Mr. Vice Marshall, I say again welcome to you and to the members of your delegation. Your stay in our capital will not be long, but I hope you will experience the hospitality of the American people, recognize our commitment to peace, and understand our desire to work pragmatically to overcome differences and find ways to benefit the citizens of both our countries.
Tonight is for relaxation and for getting to know one another better, but tomorrow we will resume our discussions, and I know you will forthright in stating your views, as will I. It is equally important that we be good and careful listeners.
There have been times in the past, I know, when our negotiators have felt that arriving at agreements between our countries was like climbing Korea's beautiful and rugged mountains; we would reach the top of one, only to find another and then another peak still towering ahead.
I hope that your visit here will mark the beginning of a more rewarding journey, away from enmity and towards security and peace.
I have been told that in Korea's venerable and unique language there are many possible endings for each verb. Clearly, there are many possible endings to the process in which we are now mutually engaged.
This evening, I hope we will join in toasting our guests from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and our shared desire for an ending that will bring a new era of prosperity and reconciliation to the Land of the Morning Calm.
(A toast was exchanged.)
CHAIRMAN JO: Ladies and gentlemen, may I take this opportunity, first of all, to say thank you very much to all of you, and especially Her Excellency Secretary of State Mrs. Madeleine Albright, for the warm welcome and friendly hospitality accorded to me and to my party, and also for this sumptuous dinner tonight in this friendly atmosphere.
And I certainly welcome and applaud the wonderful statement from Secretary of State, a statement of goodwill and friendship towards our people. As Her Excellency Secretary of State rightly pointed out, Dr. William Perry has made an important contribution to the process of normalizing relations between our two countries, especially through his well-known Perry report and recommending the steps to be taken for the improvement in relations. And we know that Dr. William Perry had taken up an important mission in May last year, despite his advanced age.
In the wake of the very historic Inter-Korean Summit meeting in June, a lot of stumbling blocks have been removed on the way to better reconciliation and cooperation, and removing mistrust equidistant between the North and South. And that is often the way for the encouraging developments, including the reunion of the separated families and greater exchanges of human and material exchanges between the North and South.
The dramatic and positive developments and changes taking place on the Korean Peninsula clearly indicates the possibility of such dramatic changes due to take place in the bilateral relations between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the United States.
And we have encouraging signs and indications of further upgrading and expanding contact and communications between our two countries, including the first important meeting between our Minister of Foreign Affairs and the US Secretary of State in Bangkok in July this year, and also my current visit to the United States.
Chairman Kim Jong Il of the DPRK's National Defense Commission will certainly make the very important political decision to turn the current bilateral relations of confrontation and hostility into the new relationship of friendship and cooperation and goodwill, if and when the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and our leadership is assured, is given the strong and concrete security assurances from the United States for the state sovereignty and the territorial integrity of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
On this visit to the United States in the capacity of the Special Envoy of our Supreme Commander General Kim Jong Il, I have an important mission already fulfilled of conveying the intentions and views of our General Kim Jong Il to President Bill Clinton on the ways of the improved relations between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the United States.
We are optimistic in our statement that we can have (inaudible) improvement in the relations between our two countries in the years ahead, and which certainly go to the best interests of our two peoples.
At this important significant opportunity and place, may I have the pleasure of raising this toast to the health of Her Excellency Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and other senior officials from the State Department, other well-known political, economic and business [persons], and our diplomatic representatives present here who have worked so hard, with best wishes for the success of my visit to the United States as the Special Envoy. May I raise this toast.
(A toast was exchanged.)
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