Secretary Antony J. Blinken And Republic of Korea Foreign Minister Park Jin At a Joint Press Availability

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Secretary Antony J. Blinken And Republic of Korea Foreign Minister Park Jin At a Joint Press Availability

Office of the Spokesperson

Washington, D.C.

Benjamin Franklin Room

SECRETARY BLINKEN: Good afternoon, everyone, and to Foreign Minister Park – Jin – to you, to your entire delegation from the Republic of Korea, welcome to the State Department. And I must say, it’s also wonderful to see my friend the ambassador newly arrived in Washington here with us as well.

Before I jump into talking about the extremely productive meeting that we had, let me just say just a few words about the Summit of the Americas that we just wrapped up in Los Angeles at the end of last week. As I think we saw in the many positive statements from leaders coming out of Los Angeles, this was a substantive and successful event that laid the foundation for enhanced regional cooperation.

Countries made significant and concrete commitments on a whole range of issues that directly shape the lives of the people in our respective countries – from training 500,000 healthcare workers, to turbo-charging the transition to clean energy, to building a more inclusive digital economy, to forging the first truly regional approach to migration in the Los Angeles Declaration. Our conversations were intense and intensive; our goals are ambitious. And now, of course, the work begins to turn what was agreed in Los Angeles into reality, to making those commitments concrete and real, and I have no doubt that all the engagement that happened in Los Angeles will pave the way to do just that.

Here today, this is the foreign minister’s first visit to Washington in his new role, and it comes quickly on the heels of the summit between President Yoon and President Biden in Seoul a few weeks ago. As President Biden said then and there, the alliance between the Republic of Korea and the United States has never been stronger, it’s never been more vibrant, it’s never been more vital. Our discussion today reflected the full breadth and depth of this partnership, as did Deputy Secretary Sherman’s meetings in Seoul earlier this month. We probably could have gone on for another couple of hours covering the world as we were.

Now, we can’t also forget the other very notable meeting between our countries recently: BTS visiting the White House. (Laughter.) For the “BTS Army” in America, it was a thrilling day. And I have to tell you – some of you may have noticed this – I had another K-pop moment myself a few weeks ago when I was on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. As we arrived at the Late Show, there was a huge crowd at the backstage door. And for a minute, I have to admit I thought, well, maybe they’re here to see me. No, there was a K-pop group Twice that was also on the show that night. That’s why they were there. And by the way, they were terrific.

So there’s no question that the ties between our countries are strong and incredibly broad as well. And through this alliance – founded in shared sacrifice, deepened over nearly 70 years – our countries are taking on urgent challenges and also seizing opportunities together.

So to name just a few of the issues that we talked about in some detail today, first, we are coordinating closely with each other on the threat posed by the DPRK’s unlawful nuclear and ballistic missile programs. The recent increase in Pyongyang’s ballistic missile testing has raised tension throughout the Indo-Pacific region and beyond. We continue to seek the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. And let me emphasize that the United States has absolutely no hostile intent toward the DPRK. We’re open to dialogue without preconditions. We want to support the people of North Korea, including with COVID-19 vaccines – indeed, we have offered our help consistently throughout the pandemic, and again during the awful surge they are now enduring, which comes on top of severe economic and humanitarian crises. Our goal, simply put, is a peaceful and stable region and world. Until the regime in Pyongyang changes course, we will continue to keep the pressure on.

Just as important as what we’re doing is how we’re doing it: together, together with the international community. For example, a few weeks ago, the United Nations Security Council voted 13-2 to impose stronger sanctions on the DPRK in the wake of unprecedented – an unprecedented number of provocative missile tests, including with ICBMs. All – all – the non-permanent members voted for the resolution. Only China and Russia opposed it.

And with Japan and the Republic of Korea, two of our closest allies, we are working trilaterally to address the threat posed by the DPRK and to tackle other pressing regional challenges, including, for example, restoring Burma to a democratic path, supporting ASEAN, accelerating women’s empowerment. All this work is grounded in our shared values as democracies and our shared commitment to human rights. And the United States is committed to helping our partners work through challenges in their relationship, which is in the collective interest of the region and of people in all three countries.

Second, we are working very closely with the Republic of Korea and other partners to develop the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, which our countries launched together in Tokyo last month along with 11 others. This will put in place a robust foundation for strong and sustainable economic growth across an incredibly dynamic region. Our countries share a commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific where innovation flourishes, supply chains are secure, labor and environment standards are high, and the rules of the road give workers and businesses from all countries an equal chance to compete and to succeed.

The bilateral economic relationship between the Republic of Korea and the United States is one of the strongest in the world. We’re your second-largest trading partner; you’re our sixth-largest. We’re the second-largest investor in your economy; you invest more in the United States than you do in any other country. In so many ways, we are profoundly linked together through our economics.

Samsung is building a semiconductor factory in Texas, which will create thousands of jobs here in the United States. Hyundai has announced more than $11 billion in new investments in American manufacturing, including a new electric vehicle plant and battery factory in Georgia that will, again, create thousands of jobs. These partnerships between leading global Korean companies and American workers and communities will yield benefits for both of our countries and bring us even closer together.

Third, we are standing together on global security challenges, including President Putin’s unprovoked war on Ukraine. Since the war began in February, the Republic of Korea has coordinated sanctions and export controls alongside the United States and other allies and partners. It’s taken steps to help stabilize energy markets. It’s offered significant economic and humanitarian support to the government and people of Ukraine. We will discuss these and other issues in depth later this month when President Yoon joins the NATO summit in Madrid, together with other allies and partners from the Indo-Pacific region.

Across these and other issues, the Republic of Korea and the United States are united. We’re working together to promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific and beyond. We’re connected by people-to-people ties going back generations, including nearly 40,000 Korean students who came to the United States in the last academic year – more per capita than from any other country. Foreign Minister Park earned degrees from not one but two American universities; he knows the power of these exchanges. So do we.

In the 140 years since our countries established diplomatic relations, we’ve grown closer in every conceivable way. Under President Yoon’s administration, that is sure to continue, especially as the ROK assumes its vital role as a global, pivotal state.

So, Jin, thank you again for being here in Washington. Thank you for the very, very good conversation between us and between our teams. A lot ahead of ahead of us, but for today it’s wonderful to have you here. Thank you.

FOREIGN MINISTER PARK: Well, thank you, Tony, for the warm welcome and the incredible hospitality. I would also like to thank your excellent team at the State Department for their work in preparing today’s meeting.

My first official order of business after arriving in Washington, D.C. yesterday was to lay a wreath at the Korean War Memorial and pay tribute to the heroic U.S. soldiers who sacrificed for freedom. While there, I had a chance to meet with American families visiting the memorial, and was pleased to learn that the families were proud descendants of the Korean War veterans, Army soldiers and Marines who have passed away. I think they were pleasantly surprised to see the Korean foreign minister there.

Today, Secretary Blinken and I had a very productive and comprehensive dialogue over lunch on a wide range of shared agenda. I’m also pleased I had this opportunity to get to know Secretary Blinken on a personal level.

Today’s meeting takes place at an especially critical moment. First, it comes on the heels of the successful summit meeting between President Yoon and President Biden three weeks ago in Seoul, where they reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening the alliance. Secretary Blinken and I discussed ways to build on the strong momentum created by the summit so early in President Yoon’s term and to promptly implement the agreements reached by our two presidents.

Second, our alliance is confronting increasingly complex challenges, including destabilizing actions by North Korea, the war in Ukraine, ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, supply chain disruptions, food and energy crisis, climate change, and others. As allies that share core values such as democracy and human rights, Korea and the United States are natural partners for tackling these tasks. This is what we mean when we commit to developing a truly global, comprehensive strategic alliance.

Secretary Blinken and I also share our assessments on the series of recent missile launches by North Korea, as well as prospects of further provocations. We affirmed that any North Korean provocations, including a nuclear test, will be met with a united and firm response from our alliance and the international community. We expressed special concern over North Korea’s increasingly aggressive rhetoric regarding the use of tactical nuclear weapons, and we agreed that North Korea issue is one of the top policy priorities for the United States and the Republic of Korea. Pyongyang’s continuous provocations will only lead to strengthened deterrence of the alliance and stronger international sanctions measures.

With a shared understanding of the importance of extended deterrence, Secretary Blinken and I agreed on the early reactivation of the high-level Extended Deterrence Strategy and Consultation Group as a follow-up to the summit meeting in May. The EDSCG will serve as a timely and effective mechanism to discuss concrete extended deterrence measures as well as to send North Korea a firm message.

We also discussed concrete ways to close the loopholes in the implementation of existing sanctions as well as ways to further strengthen the sanctions regime. At the same time, we have been very clear that we remain committed to dialogue and diplomacy. We are prepared to take a more flexible and open-minded approach to diplomacy vis-à-vis North Korea. We seek dialogue with North Korea without preconditions. We urge North Korea to cease destabilizing actions and return to dialogue.

We also reaffirmed our willingness to provide COVID-19-related humanitarian assistance to North Korea irrespective of political considerations. We hope that Pyongyang will respond positively to this offer. The 21st century U.S.-ROK alliance is about more than the security terms, security realm. It is now an economic security alliance and a tech alliance. Korea, as a global pivotal state, or GPS, stands ready to assume a more active role in advancing freedom, peace, and democracy around the globe.

Today, Secretary Blinken and I spent significant time discussing ways to address complex economic challenges so that the United States and Korea can work hand in glove to benefit our business cooperations and better the lives of our citizens in tangible ways. We also discussed addressing the all-important global supply chain issue. I expressed Korea’s full support for the upcoming ministerial on global supply chain resilience to be co-hosted by Secretary Blinken and Secretary Raimondo. Our two countries will also engage at the expert working level to strengthen supply chain early warning systems so that we can prevent damaging disruptions. Additionally, we discussed ways to scale up civil nuclear cooperation regarding partnership in overseas nuclear markets and small modular reactors.

Secretary Blinken and I reiterate our commitment to strengthening efforts for a swift conclusion of the war and restoration of peace in Ukraine. Korea stands with the United States and the international community against Russia’s illegal actions.

We also acknowledged the importance of maintaining a prosperous and peaceful Indo-Pacific. I shared Korea’s plan to formulate our own Indo-Pacific strategy which would implement our global pivotal state across the region. Secretary Blinken welcomed Korea’s initiative to embrace greater regional and global responsibilities.

I also expressed Korea’s desire to work closely with the United States and other partners to develop the IPEF, or IPEF, into an open, transparent, and inclusive platform for promoting peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region. We work forward – we look forward to engaging in discussions to flesh out the four pillars.

After today’s meeting, I could not be more confident that our alliance is stronger than it has ever been. Once again, I would like to thank Tony for today’s productive discussions and look forward to working closely with him as close partners. We are on the same page on many issues.

I hope to see you in Seoul again —

SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you.

FOREIGN MINISTER PARK: — to continue these important talks and to reciprocate your warm welcome. Thank you.

SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you.

MR PRICE: We’ll now turn to questions. We’ll start with Shaun Tandon of the AFP.

QUESTION: Hi, good afternoon, Mr. Secretary. I was going to ask about BTS, but he already addressed it, so could I ask you both to follow up on North Korea? You both mentioned the possibility of a nuclear test. How concerned are you at this point about that happening? You both said that the United States and the Republic of Korea are willing to meet without preconditions. Does that offer still stand even if they go ahead with the nuclear test?

And if I can ask another issue that affects both countries, Iran. Foreign Minister Park, there has been a longstanding row with Iran over frozen funds. Do you believe that that’s any closer to resolution? And Mr. Secretary, regarding Iran’s actions last week regarding the IAEA, do you still see hope for diplomacy? Where do you see things standing now? Are you hopeful of resuming something at some point? Thank you.

SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you. Jin, I’m happy to start if you –

FOREIGN MINISTER PARK: Go ahead.

QUESTION: So with regard to, Shaun, to a nuclear test, we remain concerned about the prospects for what would be a seventh nuclear test over multiple administrations. We know that the North Koreans have done preparations for such a test. We are being extremely vigilant about that. We’re in very close touch with our close allies and partners, starting with the Republic of Korea, also with Japan and others, to be able to respond quickly should the North Koreans proceed with such a test.

I can say simply for today that we’re preparing for all contingencies, again in very close coordination with others, notably with the ROK and with Japan. And we are prepared to make both short and longer-term adjustments to our military posture, as appropriate.

A nuclear test would be dangerous. It would be deeply destabilizing to the region. It would blatantly violate international law set out in multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions. So we urge the DPRK to refrain from further destabilizing activity. We call on the DPRK to engage in serious and sustained diplomacy. And indeed, in that regard we are prepared, as we have been, to proceed with no preconditions. And as I said earlier and I’ll repeat now, we have no hostile intent toward the DPRK. But our efforts to engage without preconditions thus far have not been met with a response from the DPRK. In fact, the only response we’ve seen thus far has been this multiplicity of missile tests, including ICBMs.

With regard to the JCPOA – and we’ve spoken to this repeatedly in recent days – a lot of work went into seeing if we could return to mutual compliance with the JCPOA, working with the European Union, working with European partners, working as well with China and Russia over the past year or more. And it is fundamentally up to Iran to decide whether or not it wishes to re-engage in that agreement because the work in terms of re-engaging in that agreement has for the most part been completed. But what we’ve seen is Iran continuing to try to inject extraneous issues into the conversation, into the negotiation, that simply have no place there. So they have to decide, and decide very quickly, if they wish to proceed with what has been negotiated and which could be completed quickly if Iran chose to do so.

Separately but relatedly, of course, are Iran’s obligations under the nonproliferation regime to its commitments to the IAEA, including commitments that it has dodged for a long period of time, to the point where it was important for the IAEA to express, through the resolution of the Board of Governors, its deep concern with Iran’s failure to comply. Now Iran has taken steps in response to the IAEA that make things even more challenging, including a return to the JCPOA as it, for example, pulls cameras out of places where the IAEA had them placed for monitoring.

One of the great benefits of the JCPOA was the most comprehensive and complete monitoring and inspections regime of any arms control agreement yet put in place. If the Iranians are dismantling that at the same time, then I think that makes the possibilities of return to compliance even more – more remote. So fundamentally, it’s up to Iran, and we’ll see quickly, I would imagine, what it proposes to do by its actions. And the actions that we’ve seen are not encouraging.

FOREIGN MINISTER PARK: I think that North Korea has now finished the preparation for another nuclear test, and I think only political decision has to be made. If North Korea ventures into another nuclear test, then I think that it will only strengthen our deterrence and also international sanctions. It will only isolate North Korea from the international community. And certainly, we need to push for a new UN Security Council resolution to deal with North Korea’s provocation as we have discussed today. So the lesson that North Korea should learn is that the more provocations they make, the more isolated they will become, and in fact it will undermine its own national security.

With regard to Iran, we want to have a mutually beneficial relationship, although we have some obstacles of frozen funds. Korea will discuss it with Iran and also with the United States. And in terms of JCPOA negotiations, we hope that this issue can be resolved as soon as possible, and if that happens then I think that these obstacles could be fixed as well. So we need more diplomacy and dialogue with Iran in order that we can have a positive result out of the negotiations on the nuclear issue.

MR PRICE: We’ll turn to Park Hyunyoung with JoongAng Ilbo.

QUESTION: Thank you for this opportunity. Secretary Blinken and Minister Park, you didn’t mention to what extent the U.S. would provide extended deterrence to South Korea. With North Korea expected to conduct its nuclear test and becoming more and more capable with its weapons program, would you agree that extended deterrence is one of the most realistic solutions to protect the Korean Peninsula? And could you give us more detail on what U.S. and ROK agreed upon and if you have a time schedule to reactivate the Extended Deterrence Strategy Consultation Group, the EDSCG?

And my second question is that the new South Korean Government vowed to strengthen U.S.-ROK alliance beyond military alliance that has been the core of the relationship for decades. Closer alignment with U.S. policies and deepening economic and security ties like joining the IPEF with the U.S. could potentially make South Korea’s relationship with China suffer, like what happened when U.S. missile defense system was deployed to South Korea in 2017. So if this happens again – Chinese bullying or economic punishment – what can Koreans expect from the Biden administration? Thank you.

SECRETARY BLINKEN: Happy to start again, Jin. Thank you very much. First, it’s very simple: the United States is committed to extended deterrence, and that commitment will also take the form of, as we’ve discussed, re-establishing the Extended Deterrence Group, the working group, and my expectation, I think the minister’s expectation, is that that will get up and working very, very soon in the weeks ahead. So that’s something we discussed. I won’t go into any further detail on the substance, but I can tell you that we’re committed to extended deterrence and we’re committed to restarting the work of this group in the weeks ahead.

With regard to the second part of your question, the relationships that we have around the world are not designed to be zero-sum when it comes to China. For example, we’re not about decoupling the economic and investment relationship between other countries and China or, for that matter, our own. On the contrary, we see tremendous value in those relationships. But there are certain aspects of the – just to cite the example of the trade and economic relationship – that are very important and that we discussed today. One is that I think for many countries, the lack of reciprocity in the economic and trade relationship is both unacceptable and unsustainable. That is, China imposes conditions and does things to our companies and businesspeople engaged in trade and investment in China that we do not impose on them, and that simply can’t last. And I think you’re seeing countries around the world come together on that proposition.

Similarly, even as we support trade investment and even as we do not seek to decouple our economies, there are certain very specific aspects of our economies that are of strategic importance or that have a security implication where we have to be very vigilant because there is no distinction between Chinese companies and the Chinese state. Indeed, under Chinese law, companies that engage in investment and business are required, at the request of the government, to share any information that they’ve acquired as a result of these economic relationships with Beijing. And that presents, in certain areas, something that we have to be very vigilant about because it could become a security or strategic issue.

So that’s the nature of the conversation. But more broadly, let me just add this. For us – and I had an opportunity to speak to this about a week ago in discussing the Biden administration’s approach to China – our approach is not about holding China back or trying to keep it down. It’s about upholding what we commonly refer to as the rules-based international order, the rule of law system that has been put in place to try to govern relations among nations in a way that upholds peace and security, minimizes the potential for conflict, and allows everyone to engage in a race to the top, where we all flourish and all succeed. When that order is challenged by anyone, we’ll defend it. And in fact, we’ll do it together. But again, this is not designed to be zero-sum. It’s designed to be a race to the top in which everyone – we hope China included – is prepared to engage.

FOREIGN MINISTER PARK: The question you have raised about extended deterrence and IPEF, we discussed before today between two of us. Extended deterrence strategy and consultation group meeting we agreed should be reactivated as soon as possible because it deals with Korean security and peace and stability, and also including the timely deployment of strategic assets when necessary. And, of course, the restoration of the Korea-U.S. joint military exercise will certainly help bring about more safe environment on the Korean Peninsula. I already mentioned the need for pushing the new UN Security Council resolution in case North Korea comes up with another nuclear test.

Concerning IPEF, the basic approach that this forum has taken is that this forum should not alienate or exclude any one specific country. The basic idea is to have a more inclusive, transparent, and also flexible forum where joining participants can discuss the future of the region and how to create new laws and norms so that member countries can operate together in the area of trade, supply chains, energy – clean energy, and tax, and anticorruption. And I think that the real question is whether China would be willing to accept the norms and the regulations so that we can have a mutually beneficial relationship in the region. So I hope that IPEF can create a better world for the future through the establishment of new regional trade and investment and also economic security framework in the region.

MR PRICE: Nike Ching, VOA.

QUESTION: Good afternoon, Secretary Blinken. Good afternoon, Minister Park. On North Korea, North Korea has just appointed its first female foreign minister and also announced a partial reshuffle of its military leadership. What is your read to these personnel change? Is it an indication of shift of approach by North Korea toward the U.S. and South Korea?

Separately, if I may, Secretary Blinken, sanctions have not been working to deter North Korea from further provocation. Given the division within the United Nations Security Council, are unilateral punitive measures by the United States targeting Chinese and Russia individuals and entities supporting North Korea’s weapon programs on the table?

And to Minister Park, do you see United States play a role to revive the intelligence-sharing pact between Japan and Korea? Thank you very much.

SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you, Nike. We have noted the appointment of the new foreign minister in North Korea, but our approach is not predicated or dependent on specific individuals. It’s focused entirely on the policies that the given country is pursuing. And as I said and just to reiterate, we remain committed, as is the Republic of Korea, to diplomacy and to dialogue. We’ve had multiple senior U.S. officials, including the President, myself, repeatedly and publicly affirm that we seek diplomacy with the DPRK without preconditions, and I repeated it again today. I also reiterated that we have no hostile intent toward the DPRK. So we’ll continue to reach out to the DPRK. We’re committed to pursuing a diplomatic approach. Unfortunately, to date what we’ve seen from the DPRK is the opposite. I hope they’ll respond differently.

With regard to sanctions and pressure, virtually all of this is coordinated closely with other countries and it’s pursuant to UN Security Council resolutions. North Korea is in violation of many of them, and repeatedly so.

When it comes to targeting those who are supporting North Korea’s missile or nuclear program, that’s already what we’re doing. We have imposed sanctions of one kind or another on individuals and entities, including Russian and Chinese individuals and entities that are aiding and abetting those programs. We’ll continue to do so.

FOREIGN MINISTER PARK: Well, I think that North Korea should change its mind and make a right decision. So rather than spending its budget for launching nuclear – testing nuclear bomb or launching missiles, they should spend their budget for the well-being of the people. Now we know that Corona-19 pandemic is affecting people’s lives in North Korea. North Korea has voluntarily admitted the problems that they have. So as long as North Korea continues on its belligerent posture, as I mentioned, it’ll only isolate the country.

With regard to GSOMIA, we want GSOMIA to be normalized as soon as possible together with the improvement of Korea-Japan relationship. In order to deal with the threat from North Korea, we need to have a policy coordination and a sharing of information between Korea and Japan and with the United States. So I hope that this security cooperation and sharing of information can be normalized as soon as possible.

MR PRICE: Our final question goes to Kim Yangsoon with KBS.

QUESTION: Hi, my name is Yangsoon Kim from KBS. It’s really nice to see you, Minister Pak, in here. Welcome. I have a question to Blinken and the Minister Park too.

Well, first of all, I’ve been working here from the inauguration of the Biden administration from the time you guys revised the North Korean policy and put out the calibrated and practical approach to North Korea. But since then, as you mentioned and admitted, there is no response from the North Korea. And it looks like the sanction doesn’t work well. So do you have any other leveraging to make the goal of Korean Peninsula denuclearization or any other thing to put a step forward to denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula? Or you guys change or modification in the North Korean policy with the new Yoon government?

And to the Minister Park, as you mentioned, yesterday, North Korea is ready to – just to push the button for the nuclear test. And do you think – what will be the instigation to push the button? Because you said that it will be the political action, and there it will be like a Korean-U.S. military joint army together things that will be an instigation or something like that? What will be the instigation?

SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you very much. So as you noted, we have made clear for some time our willingness to engage diplomatically and through dialogue with the DPRK toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula for some time. We took time to engage in a full policy review at the beginning of this administration. We completed that review and we’ve made clear, as you said, to the DPRK as well as to others our preparedness to engage through dialogue and through diplomacy in trying to resolve the issues and to advance the prospects for a genuinely peaceful peninsula.

And unfortunately, again, as I’ve said, what we’ve seen to date has been no response from the DPRK. To the extent there’s been a response, of late it has been a proliferation of missile tests including ICBMs and possibly now a nuclear test. We’ve seen the preparations for that. That would be the seventh test over multiple administrations – multiple American administrations, multiple Korean administrations.

We’ve also made clear that unless and until the DPRK is engaged with us and with partners and allies in diplomacy and in dialogue that the pressure will continue, it will be sustained, and as appropriate it will be increased. We’ve talked today and we will continue to talk with the ROK, with Japan, with others about the most effective ways to do that. And I can say that we are in full alignment when it comes to the approach that needs to be taken. That pressure can not only be exerted by our countries, but also by others in the international community, including through additional Security Council resolutions and what flows from that – from those resolutions.

At the same time, it is very important that we continue to strengthen our own defense and deterrence against further action by the DPRK. This is something that we’re also engaged in. We’re committed, for example, to talking about how we expand the scope and scale of combined military exercises for defensive and preparedness purposes, training on and around the Korean Peninsula.

And of course, we want to make sure that we have in place all the defensive capacity necessary to deal with any possible provocation or aggression coming from the DPRK. That is not what we’re looking for; that is not our goal or intent. To the contrary, it’s the peaceful resolution of all of these differences toward a denuclearized Korean Peninsula, to do that through diplomacy and dialogue, but we’re going to be prepared either way. And there is no daylight between the United States and the Republic of Korea when it comes to both aspects of that policy: being prepared fully to pursue diplomacy and dialogue but also being prepared to deal with any provocation and any aggression coming from the DPRK.

FOREIGN MINISTER PARK: I think that North Korea is at a crossroads now. It can go ahead with its nuclear test and isolate itself or it can make a right decision and return to the diplomacy and the dialogue. I hope North Korea can make the latter choice instead of continuing on a dangerous course of action. If North Korea somehow decides to go ahead with this nuclear test then, as I mentioned, Korea and the United States will react with a firm position, through strength and deterrence, and also through the UN Security Council resolution. And I also think that China should play a very positive role to persuade North Korea that maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula requires their new thinking and also making a right decision at this important, critical juncture. So I really hope that North Korea can look to the future and make the right decision.

MR PRICE: That concludes the press conference. Thank you, Your Excellencies. Thank you, everyone.

 

SECRETARY BLINKEN: Good afternoon, everyone, and to Foreign Minister Park – Jin – to you, to your entire delegation from the Republic of Korea, welcome to the State Department. And I must say, it’s also wonderful to see my friend the ambassador newly arrived in Washington here with us as well.

Before I jump into talking about the extremely productive meeting that we had, let me just say just a few words about the Summit of the Americas that we just wrapped up in Los Angeles at the end of last week. As I think we saw in the many positive statements from leaders coming out of Los Angeles, this was a substantive and successful event that laid the foundation for enhanced regional cooperation.

Countries made significant and concrete commitments on a whole range of issues that directly shape the lives of the people in our respective countries – from training 500,000 healthcare workers, to turbo-charging the transition to clean energy, to building a more inclusive digital economy, to forging the first truly regional approach to migration in the Los Angeles Declaration. Our conversations were intense and intensive; our goals are ambitious. And now, of course, the work begins to turn what was agreed in Los Angeles into reality, to making those commitments concrete and real, and I have no doubt that all the engagement that happened in Los Angeles will pave the way to do just that.

Here today, this is the foreign minister’s first visit to Washington in his new role, and it comes quickly on the heels of the summit between President Yoon and President Biden in Seoul a few weeks ago. As President Biden said then and there, the alliance between the Republic of Korea and the United States has never been stronger, it’s never been more vibrant, it’s never been more vital. Our discussion today reflected the full breadth and depth of this partnership, as did Deputy Secretary Sherman’s meetings in Seoul earlier this month. We probably could have gone on for another couple of hours covering the world as we were.

Now, we can’t also forget the other very notable meeting between our countries recently: BTS visiting the White House. (Laughter.) For the “BTS Army” in America, it was a thrilling day. And I have to tell you – some of you may have noticed this – I had another K-pop moment myself a few weeks ago when I was on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. As we arrived at the Late Show, there was a huge crowd at the backstage door. And for a minute, I have to admit I thought, well, maybe they’re here to see me. No, there was a K-pop group Twice that was also on the show that night. That’s why they were there. And by the way, they were terrific.

So there’s no question that the ties between our countries are strong and incredibly broad as well. And through this alliance – founded in shared sacrifice, deepened over nearly 70 years – our countries are taking on urgent challenges and also seizing opportunities together.

So to name just a few of the issues that we talked about in some detail today, first, we are coordinating closely with each other on the threat posed by the DPRK’s unlawful nuclear and ballistic missile programs. The recent increase in Pyongyang’s ballistic missile testing has raised tension throughout the Indo-Pacific region and beyond. We continue to seek the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. And let me emphasize that the United States has absolutely no hostile intent toward the DPRK. We’re open to dialogue without preconditions. We want to support the people of North Korea, including with COVID-19 vaccines – indeed, we have offered our help consistently throughout the pandemic, and again during the awful surge they are now enduring, which comes on top of severe economic and humanitarian crises. Our goal, simply put, is a peaceful and stable region and world. Until the regime in Pyongyang changes course, we will continue to keep the pressure on.

Just as important as what we’re doing is how we’re doing it: together, together with the international community. For example, a few weeks ago, the United Nations Security Council voted 13-2 to impose stronger sanctions on the DPRK in the wake of unprecedented – an unprecedented number of provocative missile tests, including with ICBMs. All – all – the non-permanent members voted for the resolution. Only China and Russia opposed it.

And with Japan and the Republic of Korea, two of our closest allies, we are working trilaterally to address the threat posed by the DPRK and to tackle other pressing regional challenges, including, for example, restoring Burma to a democratic path, supporting ASEAN, accelerating women’s empowerment. All this work is grounded in our shared values as democracies and our shared commitment to human rights. And the United States is committed to helping our partners work through challenges in their relationship, which is in the collective interest of the region and of people in all three countries.

Second, we are working very closely with the Republic of Korea and other partners to develop the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, which our countries launched together in Tokyo last month along with 11 others. This will put in place a robust foundation for strong and sustainable economic growth across an incredibly dynamic region. Our countries share a commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific where innovation flourishes, supply chains are secure, labor and environment standards are high, and the rules of the road give workers and businesses from all countries an equal chance to compete and to succeed.

The bilateral economic relationship between the Republic of Korea and the United States is one of the strongest in the world. We’re your second-largest trading partner; you’re our sixth-largest. We’re the second-largest investor in your economy; you invest more in the United States than you do in any other country. In so many ways, we are profoundly linked together through our economics.

Samsung is building a semiconductor factory in Texas, which will create thousands of jobs here in the United States. Hyundai has announced more than $11 billion in new investments in American manufacturing, including a new electric vehicle plant and battery factory in Georgia that will, again, create thousands of jobs. These partnerships between leading global Korean companies and American workers and communities will yield benefits for both of our countries and bring us even closer together.

Third, we are standing together on global security challenges, including President Putin’s unprovoked war on Ukraine. Since the war began in February, the Republic of Korea has coordinated sanctions and export controls alongside the United States and other allies and partners. It’s taken steps to help stabilize energy markets. It’s offered significant economic and humanitarian support to the government and people of Ukraine. We will discuss these and other issues in depth later this month when President Yoon joins the NATO summit in Madrid, together with other allies and partners from the Indo-Pacific region.

Across these and other issues, the Republic of Korea and the United States are united. We’re working together to promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific and beyond. We’re connected by people-to-people ties going back generations, including nearly 40,000 Korean students who came to the United States in the last academic year – more per capita than from any other country. Foreign Minister Park earned degrees from not one but two American universities; he knows the power of these exchanges. So do we.

In the 140 years since our countries established diplomatic relations, we’ve grown closer in every conceivable way. Under President Yoon’s administration, that is sure to continue, especially as the ROK assumes its vital role as a global, pivotal state.

So, Jin, thank you again for being here in Washington. Thank you for the very, very good conversation between us and between our teams. A lot ahead of ahead of us, but for today it’s wonderful to have you here. Thank you.

FOREIGN MINISTER PARK: Well, thank you, Tony, for the warm welcome and the incredible hospitality. I would also like to thank your excellent team at the State Department for their work in preparing today’s meeting.

My first official order of business after arriving in Washington, D.C. yesterday was to lay a wreath at the Korean War Memorial and pay tribute to the heroic U.S. soldiers who sacrificed for freedom. While there, I had a chance to meet with American families visiting the memorial, and was pleased to learn that the families were proud descendants of the Korean War veterans, Army soldiers and Marines who have passed away. I think they were pleasantly surprised to see the Korean foreign minister there.

Today, Secretary Blinken and I had a very productive and comprehensive dialogue over lunch on a wide range of shared agenda. I’m also pleased I had this opportunity to get to know Secretary Blinken on a personal level.

Today’s meeting takes place at an especially critical moment. First, it comes on the heels of the successful summit meeting between President Yoon and President Biden three weeks ago in Seoul, where they reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening the alliance. Secretary Blinken and I discussed ways to build on the strong momentum created by the summit so early in President Yoon’s term and to promptly implement the agreements reached by our two presidents.

Second, our alliance is confronting increasingly complex challenges, including destabilizing actions by North Korea, the war in Ukraine, ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, supply chain disruptions, food and energy crisis, climate change, and others. As allies that share core values such as democracy and human rights, Korea and the United States are natural partners for tackling these tasks. This is what we mean when we commit to developing a truly global, comprehensive strategic alliance.

Secretary Blinken and I also share our assessments on the series of recent missile launches by North Korea, as well as prospects of further provocations. We affirmed that any North Korean provocations, including a nuclear test, will be met with a united and firm response from our alliance and the international community. We expressed special concern over North Korea’s increasingly aggressive rhetoric regarding the use of tactical nuclear weapons, and we agreed that North Korea issue is one of the top policy priorities for the United States and the Republic of Korea. Pyongyang’s continuous provocations will only lead to strengthened deterrence of the alliance and stronger international sanctions measures.

With a shared understanding of the importance of extended deterrence, Secretary Blinken and I agreed on the early reactivation of the high-level Extended Deterrence Strategy and Consultation Group as a follow-up to the summit meeting in May. The EDSCG will serve as a timely and effective mechanism to discuss concrete extended deterrence measures as well as to send North Korea a firm message.

We also discussed concrete ways to close the loopholes in the implementation of existing sanctions as well as ways to further strengthen the sanctions regime. At the same time, we have been very clear that we remain committed to dialogue and diplomacy. We are prepared to take a more flexible and open-minded approach to diplomacy vis-à-vis North Korea. We seek dialogue with North Korea without preconditions. We urge North Korea to cease destabilizing actions and return to dialogue.

We also reaffirmed our willingness to provide COVID-19-related humanitarian assistance to North Korea irrespective of political considerations. We hope that Pyongyang will respond positively to this offer. The 21st century U.S.-ROK alliance is about more than the security terms, security realm. It is now an economic security alliance and a tech alliance. Korea, as a global pivotal state, or GPS, stands ready to assume a more active role in advancing freedom, peace, and democracy around the globe.

Today, Secretary Blinken and I spent significant time discussing ways to address complex economic challenges so that the United States and Korea can work hand in glove to benefit our business cooperations and better the lives of our citizens in tangible ways. We also discussed addressing the all-important global supply chain issue. I expressed Korea’s full support for the upcoming ministerial on global supply chain resilience to be co-hosted by Secretary Blinken and Secretary Raimondo. Our two countries will also engage at the expert working level to strengthen supply chain early warning systems so that we can prevent damaging disruptions. Additionally, we discussed ways to scale up civil nuclear cooperation regarding partnership in overseas nuclear markets and small modular reactors.

Secretary Blinken and I reiterate our commitment to strengthening efforts for a swift conclusion of the war and restoration of peace in Ukraine. Korea stands with the United States and the international community against Russia’s illegal actions.

We also acknowledged the importance of maintaining a prosperous and peaceful Indo-Pacific. I shared Korea’s plan to formulate our own Indo-Pacific strategy which would implement our global pivotal state across the region. Secretary Blinken welcomed Korea’s initiative to embrace greater regional and global responsibilities.

I also expressed Korea’s desire to work closely with the United States and other partners to develop the IPEF, or IPEF, into an open, transparent, and inclusive platform for promoting peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region. We work forward – we look forward to engaging in discussions to flesh out the four pillars.

After today’s meeting, I could not be more confident that our alliance is stronger than it has ever been. Once again, I would like to thank Tony for today’s productive discussions and look forward to working closely with him as close partners. We are on the same page on many issues.

I hope to see you in Seoul again —

SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you.

FOREIGN MINISTER PARK: — to continue these important talks and to reciprocate your warm welcome. Thank you.

SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you.

MR PRICE: We’ll now turn to questions. We’ll start with Shaun Tandon of the AFP.

QUESTION: Hi, good afternoon, Mr. Secretary. I was going to ask about BTS, but he already addressed it, so could I ask you both to follow up on North Korea? You both mentioned the possibility of a nuclear test. How concerned are you at this point about that happening? You both said that the United States and the Republic of Korea are willing to meet without preconditions. Does that offer still stand even if they go ahead with the nuclear test?

And if I can ask another issue that affects both countries, Iran. Foreign Minister Park, there has been a longstanding row with Iran over frozen funds. Do you believe that that’s any closer to resolution? And Mr. Secretary, regarding Iran’s actions last week regarding the IAEA, do you still see hope for diplomacy? Where do you see things standing now? Are you hopeful of resuming something at some point? Thank you.

SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you. Jin, I’m happy to start if you –

FOREIGN MINISTER PARK: Go ahead.

QUESTION: So with regard to, Shaun, to a nuclear test, we remain concerned about the prospects for what would be a seventh nuclear test over multiple administrations. We know that the North Koreans have done preparations for such a test. We are being extremely vigilant about that. We’re in very close touch with our close allies and partners, starting with the Republic of Korea, also with Japan and others, to be able to respond quickly should the North Koreans proceed with such a test.

I can say simply for today that we’re preparing for all contingencies, again in very close coordination with others, notably with the ROK and with Japan. And we are prepared to make both short and longer-term adjustments to our military posture, as appropriate.

A nuclear test would be dangerous. It would be deeply destabilizing to the region. It would blatantly violate international law set out in multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions. So we urge the DPRK to refrain from further destabilizing activity. We call on the DPRK to engage in serious and sustained diplomacy. And indeed, in that regard we are prepared, as we have been, to proceed with no preconditions. And as I said earlier and I’ll repeat now, we have no hostile intent toward the DPRK. But our efforts to engage without preconditions thus far have not been met with a response from the DPRK. In fact, the only response we’ve seen thus far has been this multiplicity of missile tests, including ICBMs.

With regard to the JCPOA – and we’ve spoken to this repeatedly in recent days – a lot of work went into seeing if we could return to mutual compliance with the JCPOA, working with the European Union, working with European partners, working as well with China and Russia over the past year or more. And it is fundamentally up to Iran to decide whether or not it wishes to re-engage in that agreement because the work in terms of re-engaging in that agreement has for the most part been completed. But what we’ve seen is Iran continuing to try to inject extraneous issues into the conversation, into the negotiation, that simply have no place there. So they have to decide, and decide very quickly, if they wish to proceed with what has been negotiated and which could be completed quickly if Iran chose to do so.

Separately but relatedly, of course, are Iran’s obligations under the nonproliferation regime to its commitments to the IAEA, including commitments that it has dodged for a long period of time, to the point where it was important for the IAEA to express, through the resolution of the Board of Governors, its deep concern with Iran’s failure to comply. Now Iran has taken steps in response to the IAEA that make things even more challenging, including a return to the JCPOA as it, for example, pulls cameras out of places where the IAEA had them placed for monitoring.

One of the great benefits of the JCPOA was the most comprehensive and complete monitoring and inspections regime of any arms control agreement yet put in place. If the Iranians are dismantling that at the same time, then I think that makes the possibilities of return to compliance even more – more remote. So fundamentally, it’s up to Iran, and we’ll see quickly, I would imagine, what it proposes to do by its actions. And the actions that we’ve seen are not encouraging.

FOREIGN MINISTER PARK: I think that North Korea has now finished the preparation for another nuclear test, and I think only political decision has to be made. If North Korea ventures into another nuclear test, then I think that it will only strengthen our deterrence and also international sanctions. It will only isolate North Korea from the international community. And certainly, we need to push for a new UN Security Council resolution to deal with North Korea’s provocation as we have discussed today. So the lesson that North Korea should learn is that the more provocations they make, the more isolated they will become, and in fact it will undermine its own national security.

With regard to Iran, we want to have a mutually beneficial relationship, although we have some obstacles of frozen funds. Korea will discuss it with Iran and also with the United States. And in terms of JCPOA negotiations, we hope that this issue can be resolved as soon as possible, and if that happens then I think that these obstacles could be fixed as well. So we need more diplomacy and dialogue with Iran in order that we can have a positive result out of the negotiations on the nuclear issue.

MR PRICE: We’ll turn to Park Hyunyoung with JoongAng Ilbo.

QUESTION: Thank you for this opportunity. Secretary Blinken and Minister Park, you didn’t mention to what extent the U.S. would provide extended deterrence to South Korea. With North Korea expected to conduct its nuclear test and becoming more and more capable with its weapons program, would you agree that extended deterrence is one of the most realistic solutions to protect the Korean Peninsula? And could you give us more detail on what U.S. and ROK agreed upon and if you have a time schedule to reactivate the Extended Deterrence Strategy Consultation Group, the EDSCG?

And my second question is that the new South Korean Government vowed to strengthen U.S.-ROK alliance beyond military alliance that has been the core of the relationship for decades. Closer alignment with U.S. policies and deepening economic and security ties like joining the IPEF with the U.S. could potentially make South Korea’s relationship with China suffer, like what happened when U.S. missile defense system was deployed to South Korea in 2017. So if this happens again – Chinese bullying or economic punishment – what can Koreans expect from the Biden administration? Thank you.

SECRETARY BLINKEN: Happy to start again, Jin. Thank you very much. First, it’s very simple: the United States is committed to extended deterrence, and that commitment will also take the form of, as we’ve discussed, re-establishing the Extended Deterrence Group, the working group, and my expectation, I think the minister’s expectation, is that that will get up and working very, very soon in the weeks ahead. So that’s something we discussed. I won’t go into any further detail on the substance, but I can tell you that we’re committed to extended deterrence and we’re committed to restarting the work of this group in the weeks ahead.

With regard to the second part of your question, the relationships that we have around the world are not designed to be zero-sum when it comes to China. For example, we’re not about decoupling the economic and investment relationship between other countries and China or, for that matter, our own. On the contrary, we see tremendous value in those relationships. But there are certain aspects of the – just to cite the example of the trade and economic relationship – that are very important and that we discussed today. One is that I think for many countries, the lack of reciprocity in the economic and trade relationship is both unacceptable and unsustainable. That is, China imposes conditions and does things to our companies and businesspeople engaged in trade and investment in China that we do not impose on them, and that simply can’t last. And I think you’re seeing countries around the world come together on that proposition.

Similarly, even as we support trade investment and even as we do not seek to decouple our economies, there are certain very specific aspects of our economies that are of strategic importance or that have a security implication where we have to be very vigilant because there is no distinction between Chinese companies and the Chinese state. Indeed, under Chinese law, companies that engage in investment and business are required, at the request of the government, to share any information that they’ve acquired as a result of these economic relationships with Beijing. And that presents, in certain areas, something that we have to be very vigilant about because it could become a security or strategic issue.

So that’s the nature of the conversation. But more broadly, let me just add this. For us – and I had an opportunity to speak to this about a week ago in discussing the Biden administration’s approach to China – our approach is not about holding China back or trying to keep it down. It’s about upholding what we commonly refer to as the rules-based international order, the rule of law system that has been put in place to try to govern relations among nations in a way that upholds peace and security, minimizes the potential for conflict, and allows everyone to engage in a race to the top, where we all flourish and all succeed. When that order is challenged by anyone, we’ll defend it. And in fact, we’ll do it together. But again, this is not designed to be zero-sum. It’s designed to be a race to the top in which everyone – we hope China included – is prepared to engage.

FOREIGN MINISTER PARK: The question you have raised about extended deterrence and IPEF, we discussed before today between two of us. Extended deterrence strategy and consultation group meeting we agreed should be reactivated as soon as possible because it deals with Korean security and peace and stability, and also including the timely deployment of strategic assets when necessary. And, of course, the restoration of the Korea-U.S. joint military exercise will certainly help bring about more safe environment on the Korean Peninsula. I already mentioned the need for pushing the new UN Security Council resolution in case North Korea comes up with another nuclear test.

Concerning IPEF, the basic approach that this forum has taken is that this forum should not alienate or exclude any one specific country. The basic idea is to have a more inclusive, transparent, and also flexible forum where joining participants can discuss the future of the region and how to create new laws and norms so that member countries can operate together in the area of trade, supply chains, energy – clean energy, and tax, and anticorruption. And I think that the real question is whether China would be willing to accept the norms and the regulations so that we can have a mutually beneficial relationship in the region. So I hope that IPEF can create a better world for the future through the establishment of new regional trade and investment and also economic security framework in the region.

MR PRICE: Nike Ching, VOA.

QUESTION: Good afternoon, Secretary Blinken. Good afternoon, Minister Park. On North Korea, North Korea has just appointed its first female foreign minister and also announced a partial reshuffle of its military leadership. What is your read to these personnel change? Is it an indication of shift of approach by North Korea toward the U.S. and South Korea?

Separately, if I may, Secretary Blinken, sanctions have not been working to deter North Korea from further provocation. Given the division within the United Nations Security Council, are unilateral punitive measures by the United States targeting Chinese and Russia individuals and entities supporting North Korea’s weapon programs on the table?

And to Minister Park, do you see United States play a role to revive the intelligence-sharing pact between Japan and Korea? Thank you very much.

SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you, Nike. We have noted the appointment of the new foreign minister in North Korea, but our approach is not predicated or dependent on specific individuals. It’s focused entirely on the policies that the given country is pursuing. And as I said and just to reiterate, we remain committed, as is the Republic of Korea, to diplomacy and to dialogue. We’ve had multiple senior U.S. officials, including the President, myself, repeatedly and publicly affirm that we seek diplomacy with the DPRK without preconditions, and I repeated it again today. I also reiterated that we have no hostile intent toward the DPRK. So we’ll continue to reach out to the DPRK. We’re committed to pursuing a diplomatic approach. Unfortunately, to date what we’ve seen from the DPRK is the opposite. I hope they’ll respond differently.

With regard to sanctions and pressure, virtually all of this is coordinated closely with other countries and it’s pursuant to UN Security Council resolutions. North Korea is in violation of many of them, and repeatedly so.

When it comes to targeting those who are supporting North Korea’s missile or nuclear program, that’s already what we’re doing. We have imposed sanctions of one kind or another on individuals and entities, including Russian and Chinese individuals and entities that are aiding and abetting those programs. We’ll continue to do so.

FOREIGN MINISTER PARK: Well, I think that North Korea should change its mind and make a right decision. So rather than spending its budget for launching nuclear – testing nuclear bomb or launching missiles, they should spend their budget for the well-being of the people. Now we know that Corona-19 pandemic is affecting people’s lives in North Korea. North Korea has voluntarily admitted the problems that they have. So as long as North Korea continues on its belligerent posture, as I mentioned, it’ll only isolate the country.

With regard to GSOMIA, we want GSOMIA to be normalized as soon as possible together with the improvement of Korea-Japan relationship. In order to deal with the threat from North Korea, we need to have a policy coordination and a sharing of information between Korea and Japan and with the United States. So I hope that this security cooperation and sharing of information can be normalized as soon as possible.

MR PRICE: Our final question goes to Kim Yangsoon with KBS.

QUESTION: Hi, my name is Yangsoon Kim from KBS. It’s really nice to see you, Minister Pak, in here. Welcome. I have a question to Blinken and the Minister Park too.

Well, first of all, I’ve been working here from the inauguration of the Biden administration from the time you guys revised the North Korean policy and put out the calibrated and practical approach to North Korea. But since then, as you mentioned and admitted, there is no response from the North Korea. And it looks like the sanction doesn’t work well. So do you have any other leveraging to make the goal of Korean Peninsula denuclearization or any other thing to put a step forward to denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula? Or you guys change or modification in the North Korean policy with the new Yoon government?

And to the Minister Park, as you mentioned, yesterday, North Korea is ready to – just to push the button for the nuclear test. And do you think – what will be the instigation to push the button? Because you said that it will be the political action, and there it will be like a Korean-U.S. military joint army together things that will be an instigation or something like that? What will be the instigation?

SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you very much. So as you noted, we have made clear for some time our willingness to engage diplomatically and through dialogue with the DPRK toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula for some time. We took time to engage in a full policy review at the beginning of this administration. We completed that review and we’ve made clear, as you said, to the DPRK as well as to others our preparedness to engage through dialogue and through diplomacy in trying to resolve the issues and to advance the prospects for a genuinely peaceful peninsula.

And unfortunately, again, as I’ve said, what we’ve seen to date has been no response from the DPRK. To the extent there’s been a response, of late it has been a proliferation of missile tests including ICBMs and possibly now a nuclear test. We’ve seen the preparations for that. That would be the seventh test over multiple administrations – multiple American administrations, multiple Korean administrations.

We’ve also made clear that unless and until the DPRK is engaged with us and with partners and allies in diplomacy and in dialogue that the pressure will continue, it will be sustained, and as appropriate it will be increased. We’ve talked today and we will continue to talk with the ROK, with Japan, with others about the most effective ways to do that. And I can say that we are in full alignment when it comes to the approach that needs to be taken. That pressure can not only be exerted by our countries, but also by others in the international community, including through additional Security Council resolutions and what flows from that – from those resolutions.

At the same time, it is very important that we continue to strengthen our own defense and deterrence against further action by the DPRK. This is something that we’re also engaged in. We’re committed, for example, to talking about how we expand the scope and scale of combined military exercises for defensive and preparedness purposes, training on and around the Korean Peninsula.

And of course, we want to make sure that we have in place all the defensive capacity necessary to deal with any possible provocation or aggression coming from the DPRK. That is not what we’re looking for; that is not our goal or intent. To the contrary, it’s the peaceful resolution of all of these differences toward a denuclearized Korean Peninsula, to do that through diplomacy and dialogue, but we’re going to be prepared either way. And there is no daylight between the United States and the Republic of Korea when it comes to both aspects of that policy: being prepared fully to pursue diplomacy and dialogue but also being prepared to deal with any provocation and any aggression coming from the DPRK.

FOREIGN MINISTER PARK: I think that North Korea is at a crossroads now. It can go ahead with its nuclear test and isolate itself or it can make a right decision and return to the diplomacy and the dialogue. I hope North Korea can make the latter choice instead of continuing on a dangerous course of action. If North Korea somehow decides to go ahead with this nuclear test then, as I mentioned, Korea and the United States will react with a firm position, through strength and deterrence, and also through the UN Security Council resolution. And I also think that China should play a very positive role to persuade North Korea that maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula requires their new thinking and also making a right decision at this important, critical juncture. So I really hope that North Korea can look to the future and make the right decision.

MR PRICE: That concludes the press conference. Thank you, Your Excellencies. Thank you, everyone.