PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:
Good afternoon, everybody. Please have a seat. Let me begin by saying it is a great pleasure to welcome President Park and our friends from the Republic of Korea. Madam President, we are greatly honored that you've chosen the United States as your first foreign visit. This of course reflects the deep friendship between our peoples and the great alliance between our nations, which is marking another milestone. I'm told that in Korea, a 60th birthday is a special celebration of life and longevity, "Hwangab." (Laughter.) Well, this year we're marking the 60th anniversary of the defense treaty between our nations.
Yesterday President Park visited Arlington National Cemetery and our memorial to our Korean War veterans. Tonight she's hosting a dinner to pay tribute to the generation of American veterans who have served in the defense of South Korea. And tomorrow she'll address a joint session of Congress -- an honor that is reserved for our closest of friends.
And in this sense, this visit also reflects South Korea's extraordinary progress over these six decades. From the ashes of war to one of the world's largest economies, from a recipient of foreign aid to a donor that now helps other nations develop. And of course, around the world people are being swept up by Korean culture, the Korean wave. And as I've mentioned to President Park, my daughters have taught me a pretty good "Gangnam Style." (Laughter.)
President Park, in your first months in office, South Korea's faced threats and provocations that would test any nation, yet you've displayed calm and steady resolve that has defined your life.
Like people around the world, those of us in the United States have also been inspired by your example as the first female president of South Korea. And today I've come to appreciate the leadership qualities for which you are known -- your focus and discipline and straightforwardness. And I very much thank you for the progress that we've already made together.
Today we agreed to continue the implementation of our historic trade agreement, which is already yielding benefits for both our countries. On our side, we're selling more exports to Korea, more manufactured goods, more services, more agricultural products. Even as we have a long way to go, our automobile exports are up nearly 50 percent. And our big three -- Ford, Chrysler and GM -- are selling more cars in Korea.
And as President Park and I agreed to make sure that we continue to fully implement this agreement, we believe that it's going to make both of our economies more competitive, it will boost U.S. exports by some $10 billion in support of tens of thousands of American jobs, and obviously it'll be creating jobs in Korea as they are able to continue to do extraordinary work in expanding their economy and moving it further and further up the value chain.
We agreed to continue the clean energy partnerships that help us to enhance our energy security and address climate change. Given the importance of a peaceful nuclear energy industry to South Korea, we recently agreed to extend the existing civilian nuclear agreement between our two countries, but we also emphasized in our discussions the need to continue to work diligently towards a new agreement. As I told the president, I believe that we can find a way to support South Korea's energy and commercial needs, even as we uphold our mutual commitments to prevent nuclear proliferation.
We agreed to continuing modernizing our security alliance. Guided by our joint vision, we're investing in the shared capabilities and technologies and missile defenses that allow our forces to operate and succeed together.
We are on-track for South Korea to assume operational control for the alliance in 2015, and we're determined to be fully prepared for any challenge or threat to our security. And obviously, that includes the threat from North Korea.
If Pyongyang thought its recent threats would drive a wedge between South Korea and the United States or somehow garner the north international respect, today is further evidence that North Korea has failed again. President Park and South Koreans have stood firm with confidence and resolve. The United States and the Republic of Korea are as united as ever, and faced with new international sanctions, North Korea is more isolated than ever. In short, the days when North Korea could create a crisis and elicit concessions -- those days are over.
Our two nations are prepared to engage with North Korea diplomatically and, over time, build trust. But as always, and as President Park has made clear, the burden is on Pyongyang to take meaningful steps to abide by its commitments and obligations, particularly the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. And we discussed that Pyongyang should take notice of events in countries like Burma, which, as it reforms, is seeing more trade and investment and diplomatic ties with the world, including the United States and South Korea.
For our part, we'll continue to coordinate closely with South Korea and with Japan. And I want to make clear that the United States is fully prepared and capable of defending ourselves and our allies with the full range of capabilities available, including the deterrence provided by our conventional and nuclear forces. As I said in Seoul last year, the commitment of the United States to the security of the Republic of Korea will never waver.
More broadly, we agreed to continue expanding our cooperation globally. In Afghanistan, where our troops serve together and where South Korea is a major donor of development assistance, we're on track to complete the transition to Afghan-led operations by the end of next year.
We discussed Syria, where both our nations are working to strengthen the opposition and plan for a Syria without Bashir Assad. And I'm pleased that our two nations and our Peace Corps have agreed to expand our efforts to promote development around the world.
Finally, we're expanding the already-strong ties between our young people. As an engineer by training, President Park knows the importance of education. Madam President, you've said, and I'm quoting you: We live in an age where a single individual can raise the value of an entire nation. I could not agree more, so I'm pleased that we're renewing exchange programs that bring our students together. And as we pursue common-sense immigration reform here in the United States, we want to make it easier for foreign entrepreneurs and foreign graduate students from countries like Korea to stay and contribute to our country, just as so many Korean-Americans already do.
So again, thank you, President Park, for making the United States your first foreign trip. In your inaugural address, you celebrated the can-do spirit of the Korean people. That is a spirit that we share. And after our meeting today, I'm confident that if our two nations continue to stand together there's nothing that we cannot do together.
So, Madam President, welcome to the United States.
PRESIDENT PARK GEUN-HYE:
(Through interpreter.) Let me start by thanking President Obama for his invitation and his gracious hospitality. During my meeting with the president today, I was able to have a heart-to-heart talk with him on a wide range of common interests. I found that the two of us have a broad common view about the vision and roles that should guide the Korea-U.S. alliance as it moves forward. And I was delighted to see this.
First of all, the president and I share the view that the Korea- U.S. alliance has been faithfully carrying out its role as a bulwark of peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia and that the alliance should continue to serve as a linchpin for peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in Asia. In this regard, I believe it is significant that the joint declaration on the 60th anniversary of our alliance we adopted spells out the direction that our comprehensive strategic alliance should take.
Next, the president and I reaffirmed that we will by no means tolerate North Korea's threats and provocations, which have recently been escalating further, and that such actions would only deepen North Korea's isolation. The president and I noted that it is important that we continue to strengthen our deterrence against North Korea's nuclear and conventional weapons threats and shared the view that in this respect, the transition of wartime operational control should also proceed in a way that strengthens our combined defense capabilities and preparations be made -- (inaudible) -- as well.
We also shared the view that realizing President Obama's vision of a world without nuclear weapons should start in the Korean Peninsula, and he stated that we could continue to strongly urge North Korea, in close concert with the other members of the six-party talks and the international community, to faithfully abide by its international obligations under the September 19th joint statement and the relevant Security Council resolutions.
Korea and the U.S. will work jointly to induce North Korea to make the right choice through multifaceted efforts, including the implementation of the Korean Peninsula trust-building process that I spelled out and take this opportunity to once again send a clear message: North Korea will not be able to survive if it only clings to developing its nuclear weapons at the expense of its people's happiness.
Concurrently pursuing nuclear arsenals and economic development can by no means succeed. This is the shared view of the other members of the six-party talks and the international community. However, should North Korea choose the path to becoming a responsible member of the community of nations, we are willing to provide assistance together with the international community.
We also had meaningful discussions on the economy and ways to engage in substantive cooperation. The president and I welcome the fact that the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, which went into effect one year ago, is contributing to our shared prosperity. We also said we will make efforts to enable our people to better feel the benefits of our free trade agreement for them.
I highlighted the importance of securing high-skilled U.S. work visas for Korean citizens and asked for executive branch support, to the extent possible, to see to it that the relevant legislation is passed in the U.S. Congress. Moreover, we arrived at the view that the Korea-U.S. Civil Nuclear Energy Cooperation Agreement should be revised into an advanced and mutually beneficial successor agreement. We said we would do our best to conclude our negotiations as soon as possible.
The president and I also had in-depth discussions on ways to enhance our global partnership. First, we noted together that Northeast Asia needs to move beyond (conflict and divisions ?) and open a new era of peace and cooperation, and that there would be synergy between President Obama's policy of rebalancing to Asia and my initiative for peace and cooperation in Northeast Asia as we pursue peace and development in the region.
We share the view about playing the role of co-architects to flesh out this vision.
Furthermore, we decided that the Korea-U.S. alliance should deal not just with challenges relating to the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia but confronting the broader international community.
I and very delighted that I was able to build personal trust with President Obama through our summit meeting today and to have laid a framework for cooperation. Thank you.
All right. We've got a couple of questions from each -- each side. So we'll start with Stephen Collinson of AFP.
Q: Thank you, Mr. President. Does the United States have a core national security interest in stopping the slaughter in Syria, or merely a strong moral desire to see the violence end? And at what point does the cost of not intervening in a more direct way than you have done so far outweigh the cost of doing so?
And if I may ask President Park, President Obama's critics have warned that failing to act on perceived violations of U.S. red lines in Syria could embolden U.S. enemies elsewhere, including in North Korea. Are you convinced that Kim Jong Un has taken the U.S. and South Korean warnings seriously? And do you see the withdrawal of two missiles from a test site as a sign that he's willing to de-escalate the situation?
Well, Stephen, I think that we have both a moral obligation and a national security interest in, A, ending the slaughter in Syria but, B, also ensuring that we've got a stable Syria that is representative of all the Syrian people and is not creating chaos for its neighbors.
And that's why, for the last two years, we have been active in trying to ensure that Bashar Assad exits the stage and that we can begin a political transition process. That's the reason why we have invested so much in humanitarian aid; that's the reason why we are so invested in helping the opposition and why we've mobilized the international community to isolate Syria. That's why we are now providing nonlethal assistance to the opposition, and that's why we're going to continue to do the work that we need to do.
And in terms of the costs and the benefits, I think there'd be severe costs in doing nothing. That's why we're not doing nothing. That's why we are actively invested in the process. If what you're asking is, are there continuing re-evaluations about what we do, what actions we take in conjunction with other international partners to optimize the day when -- or to hasten the day when we can see a better situation in Syria -- we've been doing that all along and will continue to do that.
I think that understandably, there's a desire for easy answers. That's not the situation there, and my job is to constantly measure our very real and legitimate humanitarian and national security interests in Syria, but measuring those against my bottom line, which is, what's in the best interests of America's security, and making sure that I'm making decisions not based on a hope and a prayer but on hard-headed analysis in terms of what will actually make us safer and stabilize the region.
I would note, not to answer the question that you lobbed over to President Park, that you suggested even in your question a perceived crossing of a red line. The operative word there, I guess, Steven (sp), is perceived. And what I've said is that we have evidence that there has been the use of chemical weapons inside of Syria.
But I don't make decisions based on perceived. And I can't organize international coalitions around perceived. We've tried that in the past, by the way, and it didn't work out well. So we want to make sure that, you know, we have the best analysis possible. We want to make sure that we are acting deliberately.
But I would just point out that there have been several instances during the course of my presidency where I said I was going to do something, and it ended up getting done. And there were times when there were folks on the sidelines wondering why hasn't it happened yet and what's going on and why didn't it go on tomorrow. And -- but in the end, whether it's bin Laden or Gadhafi, if we say we're taking a position, I would think at this point, the international community has a pretty good sense that we typically follow through on our commitments.
With regard to actions towards Syria, what kind of message would that communicate to North Korea?
That was the question. And recently North Korea seems to be de- escalating its threats and provocations. What seems to be behind that? You asked these two questions.
In fact, North Korea is isolated at the moment. So it's hard to find anyone that could really actually fathom the situation in North Korea. But it's actually -- they're also very unpredictable. And whether the Syrian situation would have an impact is hard to say, for sure. Why is North Korea appearing to de-escalate its threats and provocations? There is no knowing for sure, but what is clear and what I believe for sure is that the international community, with regard to North Korea's bad behavior and its provocations -- (inaudible) -- one choice: a firm message -- and consistently send a firm message that they will not (stand ?) and that North Korea's actions in breach of international norms will be met with so-and-so sanctions and measures by the international community. At the same time, if it goes along the right way, there will be a so-and-so reward.
So if we consistently send that message to North Korea, I feel that North Korea will be left with no choice but to change. But instead of just hoping to see North Korea change, the international community must also consistently send that message with one voice to compel them communicate to them that they have no choice but to change and to shape an environment where they are left with no choice but to make the strategic decision to change. And I think that's the effective and important way.
(Through interpreter.) My question goes to President Park. You just mentioned that North Korea -- in order to induce North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons, what is most important is the concerted action of the international community.
With regard to this, during your meeting with President Obama today, what was said and the views that you shared? And with regard to with Russia and China, the role that they're playing in terms of getting North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons, how do you feel about that?
My next question is for President Obama. Regarding the young leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Un, I would appreciate your views about leader of North Korea. And if you were to send a message to him today, what kind of message would you send to him?
With regard to the North Korea issue, we and the United States, as well as the international community -- the ultimate objective that all of us should be adopting is for North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons and to induce them to become a responsible member of the International community. It serves the interest of peace on the Korean Peninsula and the world, and it also serves the interest of North Korea's own (development in the ?) world. That is my view.
And so in order to encourage North Korea to walk that path and change -- (inaudible) -- we have to work in concert. And in this regard, China's role, China's influence can be extensive. So China taking part in these endeavors is important, and we shared views on that.
With regard to China and Russia's stance, I believe that China and Russia must make -- (inaudible) -- share the need for a denuclearized Korean Peninsula and are cooperating closely to engage North Korea to take the right path,
In the case of China, with regard to North Korea's missile fire and nuclear testing, China has taken active part in adopting U.N. Security Council resolutions and is faithfully implementing those resolutions.
And with regards to Russia, Russia is also firmly committed to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. And with regard to the adoption of U.N. Security Council resolutions on North Korea, it has been very active in supporting them, and they've also sent a very -- and they've also worked very hard to include a stern message to North Korea in the joint statement of the G-8 foreign ministers' meeting.
Such constructive efforts on the part of China and Russia are vital to sending a unified message to North Korea that their nuclear weapons will not stand and encouraging and urging North Korea to make the right decision.
Obviously I don't know Kim Jong Un personally. I haven't had a conversation with him, can't really give you an opinion about his personal characteristics.
What we do know is the actions that he's taken that have been provocative and seemed to pursue a dead end. And I want to emphasize President Park and myself very much share the view that we are going to maintain a strong deterrent capability, that we're not going to reward provocative behavior, but we remain open to the prospect of North Korea taking a peaceful path of denuclearization, abiding by international commitments, rejoining the international community and seeing a gradual progression in which both security and prosperity for the people of North Korea can be achieved.
You know, if what North Korea has been doing has not resulted in a strong, prosperous nation, then now's a good time for Kim Jong Un to evaluate that history and take a different path.
And I think that should he choose to take a different path, not only President Park and myself would welcome it, but the international community as a whole would welcome it. And I think that China and Russia and Japan and other key players that have been participants in six-party talks have made that clear.
But there's going to have to be changes in behavior. You know, we have an expression in English. You know, don't -- don't -- don't worry about what I say, watch what I do. And we're -- so far, at least, we haven't seen actions on the part of the North Koreans that would indicate they're prepared to -- to move in a different direction.
...(first part on non-relevant topic...DOD's sexual assault crisis)
And if I may, President Park, I would ask you, yesterday you said that if North Korea does not change its behavior, we will make them pay. I wondered if you could elaborate on that comment a little bit. Thank you.
(long FIRM answer to a military sexual assault question)
(Through interpreter.) Regarding North Korea's provocations and bad behavior, we will make them pay. With regard to that, for instance, what I meant was that if they engage in military provocation and harm the lives of our people and the safety of our people, then naturally, as president who gives the top priority to ensuring the safety of our people, it is something that we cannot just pass over.
So if North Korea engages in provocation, I will fully trust the judgment of our military. So if our military makes a judgment which they feel is the right thing, that they should act accordingly. And this is the instruction that I had made.
And North Korea has to pay a price when it comes not only with regard to provocations but also with regard to the recent Kaesong industrial complex issue, where based on agreements between the two sides, companies had believed in the agreement that was made and actually went to invest in the Kaesong industrial complex. But they suddenly completely (dispensed with ?) and disregard this agreement overnight and deny various medical supplies and food supplies to Korean citizens left in that industrial complex, refusing to accept our requests to allow in those supplies, which is what prompted us to withdraw all of our citizens from that park.
This situation unfolded in the full view of the international community. So who would invest -- (inaudible) -- Korean companies but also companies of other countries -- who would invest in North Korea, in a place that shows flagrant disregard for agreements? And how could they, under those circumstances, actually pull off economic -- (inaudible)? So I think in this regard, they're actually paying the price for their own misdeeds.
(Through interpreter.) I am -- (off mic) -- President Obama, President Park has been talking about the Korean Peninsula trust- building process as a way to promote peace on the Korean Peninsula. I wonder what you feel about this trust-building process on the Korean Peninsula.
Well, as I indicated before, President Park's approach is very compatible with my approach and the approach that we have been taking together for several years now. And as I (may ?) -- understand it, the -- the key is that we will be prepared for deterrence, that we will respond to aggression, that we will not reward provocative actions, but that we will maintain an openness to a -- an engagement process when we see North Korea taking steps that would indicate that it is following a different path. And that's exactly the right approach.
All of us would benefit from a North Korea that transformed itself. Certainly the people of North Korea would benefit. South Korea would be even stronger in a less tense environment on the peninsula. All of the surrounding neighbors would welcome such a transition, such a transformation. But I don't think either President Park or I are naive about the difficulties of that taking place.
And we've got to see action before, you know, we -- we can have confidence that that in fact is the path that North Korea intends to take.
But the one thing I want to emphasize, just based on the excellent meetings and consultation that we had today as well as watching President Park over the last several months dealing with the provocative escalations that have been taking place in North Korea, what I'm very confident about is President Park is tough. I think she has a very clear, realistic view of the situation, but she also has the wisdom to believe that conflict is not inevitable and is not preferable. And that's true on the Korean Penisuala; that's true around the world.
And we very much appreciate her visit and look forward to excellent cooperation, not only on this issue but on the more positive issues of economic and commerical ties between our two countries, educational exchanges, work on energy, climate change, helping other countries develop.
You know, I've had a wonderful time every time I've visited the Republic of Korea. And what is clear is that the Republic of Korea is one of the great success stories of our lifetime. And you know, the Republic of Korea's leadership around the globe will be increasingly important. And what underpins that in part has been he extraordinary history of the alliance between the United States and the Republic of Korea. And we want to make sure that that remains a strong foundation for progress in the future.
So thank you so much, Madam President.
Welcome to Studio Korea First Take, a rapid reaction report, and welcome to The Korea Society. I am Stephen Noerper, senior vice president.
For reflections on the historic May summit between Presidents Park Geun-hye and Barack Obama, we are joined by Scott Snyder, senior fellow for Korea studies and director of the program on US-Korea policy at the Council on Foreign Relations. Welcome, Scott. I'm delighted to have you back.
Good to be here, Steve.
Scott, your thoughts on the meeting between Presidents Park and Obama and the atmospherics conveyed.
Well, this was the first in-person meeting for both presidents. I thought that both of them worked hard to project messages of assurance to each other on the basis of close cooperation and shared common interests. President Obama, I think, indicated clearly the US security and defense commitments to South Korea. He also cited in his remarks that President Park is a cool and seasoned crisis manager who has [already] shown her strong leadership qualities in office.
And how does the Joint Declaration between the two [countries] hold up against the 2009 Joint Statement?
This is the 60th anniversary of the US-Korea alliance [and] this Joint Declaration was released in that context. It draws on many elements of the June, 2009 Joint Vision that was released when President Lee visited President Obama, but there are a couple of differences.
One is that the challenge of dealing with North Korea was elevated in the statement. [Secondly], this statement is much more focused on the Peninsula than on global cooperation; although global cooperation is included in the statement as a shared objective. A third aspect is that it talks about President Park's own desire to build trust with North Korea; but it clearly places that trust-building process in the context of the objective of trying to bring North Korea into compliance with its international obligations.
I think it's a strong statement. It very much shows that this is a comprehensive strategic alliance. It shows a measure of progress compared to where we were in 2009; but I think it's much more focused on the joint sense of purpose in trying to respond to the challenge posed by North Korea.
Scott, what do you think will be the reaction in Pyongyang?
I think that both presidents delivered a strong and stern message that the leadership in Pyongyang [will probably not enjoy hearing]. At the same time, the North Koreans do tend to view public statements of this sort as propaganda. They also have propaganda that they release. I think that with regards to their ongoing efforts to evaluate Park Geun-hye, [the missing element] is probably that we don't see yet (and perhaps won't see for a period of time) whether or not, or how, the South Korean government positions itself in terms of any private messages that it tries to deliver to North Korea; and whether North Korea can find a way to respond.
Certainly President Park's approach seems a little bit more open in terms of trying to engage North Korea, but it also has a lot of elements of commonality with the approach of President Lee. It's going to be very interesting to see whether North Korea is willing to pick up on the positive elements, or whether they move into a more confrontational approach as they try to manage the inter-Korean relationship.
Scott Snyder of the Council on Foreign Relations. Thank you.