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U.S. Department of State
96/09/24 Remarks with Korean Minister Gong Ro-Mung
Office of the Spokesman
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
(New York, New York)
For Immediate Release September 24, 1996
SECRETARY OF STATE WARREN CHRISTOPHER
KOREAN MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS,
PRIOR TO THEIR BILATERAL MEETING
New York, New York
September 24, 1996
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Good afternoon. I'm very pleased to have
another opportunity to meet with my friend and fellow Foreign Minister
The close working relationship that we have reflects the close
partnership between the Republic of Korea and the United States.
Our consultations with Korea are always close but they've been
especially intensive in the last few days following North Korea's
dangerous and provocative actions.
As the President underscored this morning in his speech to the General
Assembly, the United States strongly calls on North Korea to avoid any
further provocative actions of this character. We'll continue to stand
together with you, Mr. Minister, and our close ally, the Republic of
Korea; certainly stand together in the face of any threat or violation
of the Armistice Agreement.
Even as we maintain our vigilance, we continue to work with the Republic
of Korea toward the goal of a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula. It
remains in North Korea's interest to demonstrate its commitment to
reduced tensions and to accept the proposal recently put forward by
President Kim of the Republic of Korea and President Clinton for four-
party talks, looking toward a peace agreement.
Minister Gong and I will certainly discuss today the implementation of
the Agreed Framework between the United States and North Korea, which
continues to serve regional and global stability.
As you know, in the past two years the freeze on North Korea's nuclear
program, pursuant to the Framework, has held very well and it's been
steady, helped by the very capable monitoring and watch by the
international inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Almost half of North Korea's nuclear fuel -- the spent fuel -- has been
now safely stored. The KEDO organization, pursuant to the Framework,
has raised over $90 million from 20 countries to implement the first
part of the Framework.
The Minister and I will also have an opportunity to review the important
interests and responsibilities we share on a very wide range of Asian
issues. That includes our joint participation in the ASEAN Regional
Forum and the objectives that we have for the meeting this November of
APEC which this year, Mr. Minister, will be held in Manila, won't it.
The Republic of Korea has an especially important role at the present
time as a member of the U.N. Security Council. We'll be talking about
some of the key challenges that the U.N. faces during this forthcoming
session, especially the need to go forward with further reform.
As you can see, the Minister and I have got a heavy, important agenda of
issues to discuss here today.
Mr. Minister, once again I welcome you here.
MINISTER GONG: Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. Secretary
Christopher and I will have an in-depth discussion on matters of our
As you know, North Korea's infiltration of armed commandos into the
Republic of Korea by means of submarine constitute a flagrant violation
of the Armistice Agreement as well as a grave military provocation
against the South. We will discuss this matter and would like to
confirm that this action will constitute a military provocation against
the South. I would like to reaffirm this strong North Korea defense
The incident was reported, of course, at the United Nations Security
Council last Friday immediately after it occurred. Such a provocation
by the North threatens peace and security not only in the Korean
Peninsula but in the northeast Asian region as well.
As soon as the mopping-up operation and interrogation of the incident is
completed, the ROK and the U.S. will hold consultations on whether to
take additional steps at the Security Council. It is our view that this
provocation will exasperate the Korean people and the international
community as well.
Furthermore, this incident clearly shows that no genuine peace and
security on the Korean Peninsula will be achievable without North
Korea's acceptance of peaceful co-existence no matter what progress is
made between the United States and North Korea.
In this regard, the ROK and the U.S. reaffirm -- will reaffirm -- that
progress in inter-Korean dialogue is essential to the successful
implementation of the Agreed Framework, which the United States reached
agreement with North Korea. We'll pledge to work together more closely
to this end.
Secretary Christopher and I will discuss further to continue our joint
efforts to persuade the North to accept the proposal for the four-party
meeting without delay to establish permanent peace on the Korean
We think the four-party meeting, the ROK and the U.S., will facilitate
the process of realizing peace on the Korean Peninsula.
Of course, if time permits, as the Secretary said, we will discuss other
matters of mutual concern, including our joint efforts in APEC and Asia
regional forums and also the projects on KEDO.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, you mentioned the nuclear freeze. There have
been instances of the beginning at least of a relationship with North
Korea -- more contact; other things although they've held back on a
peace proposal, peace talks proposal -- are you concerned that this
incident will have a damaging effect on -- I hate to use the word
"relations," -- but the beginning, the incipient beginning of relations
with North Korea? Can you isolate this from the other goals you seek?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: For the moment, Barry, let me stress the United
States condemns this incident. We regard it as provocative and we urge
North Korea not to take any further provocative actions.
As Minister Gong has just said, we continue to believe that the four-
party talks are in the interests of peace in the Korean Peninsula. As
he has just said, we intend to try to pursue those talks as a way to try
to achieve an enduring peace in the Peninsula. I think that will be our
The United States strongly condemns the provocative acts that have been
undertaken and strongly urges that they not be repeated.
QUESTION: Yes, but is the nuclear agreement in any way endangered by
this action that North Korea has taken? Can you isolate it? Can you
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: We think the nuclear agreement is an extremely
important agreement. It has produced a freeze on North Korean nuclear
ambitions and provides for the ultimate dismantling of it. I think the
Minister and I will be discussing that. It remains in the interests of
both countries and, indeed, the region as a whole, as he has implied,
for North Korea not to go ahead with a nuclear program. We would expect
to maintain that freeze and maintain the Framework. But that's
something the Minister and I will be talking about -- how best to
achieve that in the face of these regrettably provocative actions.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, do you think the United States still considers
humanitarian aid a separate issue from this recent North Korean
infiltration, like humanitarian aid for flood victims for North Korea?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: The United States and the Republic of Korea have
joined in some humanitarian aid in the past. The Minister and I will be
assessing in the course of the meeting together the situation in that
regard. For the moment, I can say once again we condemn this
provocative act and urge that it not be repeated.
QUESTION: The South Korean Defense Ministry said this morning that it
would like the United States to revive joint military maneuvers and
exercises on the Peninsula.
Mr. Minister, has any formal request been made? And, Mr. Secretary,
would the United States be prepared to accept such a proposal?
MINISTER GONG: To my knowledge, we haven't requested resumption of this
joint military maneuver yet. I think this has to be first decided
within the government, and then I think we have to make consultation
with the United States, if we so decide.
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: All I would say in answer to that is, the United
States and the Republic of Korea maintain a high state of military
readiness which is assisted by frequent joint maneuvers and other
As the Minister said, they will take a decision within their government,
and we'll have the closest consultations as we move forward from this
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