Thank you, thank you very much.
Thank you, Hank, for that introduction, we certainly appreciate your taking on this important responsibility it's important to our countries relationship for sure.
Mr. Joe (sp), ladies and gentleman. I must say that during my time in business, I was in the pharmaceutical business and we had relationships with the Republic of Korea. I was in the electronics business and we had relationships with the Republic of Korea, so I understand a bit of what this group is about and how important it is.
This October the United States and the Republic of Korea celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the treaty that has really changed the course of history for the better. Out of the devastation of that war in which both of our countries invested substantial blood and treasure, the Republic of Korea has not only survived but it has prospered and it is an impressive accomplishment. Today I guess it's probably the 12th largest economy, a thriving democracy and unqualified success.
Americans I should add are proud of the role that we have played in the success and we're certainly committed to Korea's continued security and prosperity and make no mistake those two words are inextricably linked, you cannot have prosperity without security, it simply doesn't happen there has to be an environment that's hospitable to investment, enterprise and without security that doesn't happen.
I understand that before I arrived you had some discussion about the situation with North Korea last evening, good so you're current on that. So rather than focus on that what I will do is to comment on the current state of our military cooperation, which is very important to us as well as to Korea. What we're doing to strengthen deterrence on the Korean Peninsula and what we see in the period ahead. Last December the ROK Defense Minister - Minister Joon and I met to initiate a process to examine the structure of the alliance and to make recommendations as to how we might improve and strengthen that for future generation. President Bush met with President No (sp) last May to discuss the best way to accomplish our goals and I had the pleasure of meeting with Minister Lee's successor Minister Cho Young Gil in Washington last July.
Together we've undertaken an important joint review of our military posture with an eye towards how best to take advantage of the new technologies and capabilities and strengthen our deterrence for the 21st Century security environment. Change is always hard. It's hard when you try to change a business. It's hard when you try to change a government bureaucracy, it's hard when you try to make adjustments in a relationship like this, so I think it's worth some time to discuss it and make sure everyone is on the same wave length.
We have discussed transforming our combined forces, which is a necessity but it's also an opportunity to modernize the alliance and adapt it to the changing security requirements of region and world, and let there be no doubt we are in a new security environment. This is a different period than the preceding period when our relationship was fashioned and put in place. We've pledged to work together to employ new technologies and capabilities to transition to a more capable and sustainable U.S. military presence on the peninsula.
This includes expanding the role of ROK Defense Forces in defense of the peninsula, relocating the U.S. Garrison at Yongsan and consolidating U.S. Forces around several key hubs. While the size and shape of the U.S. footprint in the world and the region may evolve and indeed it will evolve -- not just in Northeast Asia -- but in Europe and elsewhere across the globe -- we're addressing this subject in an important way. There certainly would be no change at all in our commitment to the defense of South Korea and just let there be no doubt about that. Our goal is to reinforce deterrence and to position the alliance for the period ahead.
We've undertaken similar steps with respect to NATO. We have adjusted command structure there just as we've made significant changes in our U.S. Command structure, and all of these things are a reflection of the fact that the 21st Century security environment is so notably different. And by taking advantage of new technologies and capabilities now battle tested in the global war on terrorism, we've improved ability to counter North Korea's advantages. And by improving the force structure of both our countries, we can reduce unnecessary burdens on both sides and invest in these improved capabilities.
I also want to say that we do appreciate Korea's assistance in Afghanistan and in Iraq, it certainly demonstrates the spirit of the Korean people. They know well the value of democracy and the importance of victory over aggression and tyranny. Like the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, the people of Korea had to rebuild from war and from devastation and today your Republic provides an excellent example of what Iraq and Afghanistan conceivably could become with patience and perseverance.
We appreciate the positive role that Korea is able to play in the global security arena and the professionalism and the capabilities of Korea's Armed Forces. As discussions between our two governments move forward, we will work out the details of our new force structure arrangements for the peninsula and will incorporate new capabilities in Korea as they become available.
Over the next four years, the United States has plans to make a substantial investment in the alliance, strengthening more than 150 of our various military capabilities. And we've been assured that Korea will compliment those investments with improved capabilities of their own. These parallel investments demonstrate not only the partnership between our two countries but also our determination to do what's necessary to ensure deterrence, security and stability on the peninsula.
For 50 years the forces of the United States and Korea have stood shoulder to shoulder in defense of peace and freedom. We're proud of that and during those five decades of friendship, Korea has prospered politically and economically.
On my roundtable in my office I have a glass top and under that glass top is a photograph of the Korean peninsula, it's taken from a satellite at night, maybe some of you have seen it. There are practically no lights in the North of DMZ except in Pyongyang -- south of the DMZ, just an energy and vitality and as represented by that electricity. What a difference between freedom and oppression: in one the light of liberty out shines everything, and in the other the darkness of the dictatorship is so obvious even from so many miles in outer space.
The armistice that stopped the spread of communism in Korea was I suppose one of the first victories of the Cold War if one thinks about it, a Cold War against communism that latest most of my adult lifetime. Throughout that long struggle many doubted that we would ever live to see the day when communism would fall but it did. It has fallen everywhere except for a few lonely outposts which in a sense crumbling by their own hands. While the situation in North Korea sometimes looks bleak, I'm convinced that one-day freedom will come to the people of the North and light up that oppressed land with hope and with promise.
When President Bush visited the DMZ in February of last year he talked about Americas vision for all the Korean people. He said that we see a peninsula that one-day is united in commerce and in cooperation, not divided by barbed wire or fear. Korean grandparents spending their final years with those they love, Korean children thriving not starving while an Army is fed, stability built on the reconciliation of it's two halves. But until that day we have to continue to do what we must do. We have to build on the strong relationship between our two countries. We have to continue to strengthen security and promote peace and prosperity and we have to hope to see the people of the North brought in to the light of liberty at some point in the future.
You have a critical role, Korea does in that vision. As I said when I started without security, there isn't prosperity, and so we have to see that the deterrent is strong, that our commitment is well understood and that our cooperative relationship is as healthy as it can be --and to be healthy it simply has to evolve and change to fit this 21st Century.
So I thank all of you for what you do for your respective countries and for peace in the world.
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