South Korea, U.S. Reaffirm Military Ties
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 22, 2001 Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Republic of Korea Defense Minister Kim Dong- shin discussed the long-standing U.S.-South Korea relationship during a June 21 meeting in the Pentagon.
Rumsfeld said the ministers talked about a number of topics including the threat North Korea poses to peace in Northeast Asia and the policies the United States and South Korea have coordinated in respect to the North.
The two ministers also spoke about the import of the defense review the Bush Administration is currently performing. This was the first meeting between the men since the Administration took office.
Minister Kim said through an interpreter that he was pleased with the meeting. "We exchanged our frank and honest opinions on major issues of mutual concerns," he said.
He said the conversations reemphasized the importance of the U.S.-ROK alliance. "The security alliance changes with the advent of a new era," he said. He said he and Rumsfeld discussed U.S. engagement policy toward North Korea following the Bush Administration review of the policy.
"It is necessary to maintain U.S. Forces Korea on the Korean Peninsula in the long term so that we may continue to ensure peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula as well as Northeast Asia," Kim said.
He said the two men agreed to strengthen military capabilities against North Korea and further develop South Korean-U.S. combined posture for the 21st Century.
The secretary and minister expressed America's "strong support for President Kim Dae-jung's engagement policy toward North Korea."
U.S. and South Korean officials agreed to continue to consult on South Korea's military confidence-building measures with the North.
"North Korea is posing threats to the security of the Korean Peninsula and the region right now through its nuclear and missile programs," Kim said. "In this regard, we agreed that it is necessary for North Korea to accept an inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency and for the issues concerning North Korea's missile program to be resolved as soon as possible."
The United States wants to include limiting conventional forces in discussions with North Korea on the nuclear and missile technology. Rumsfeld said there has been no progress in including conventional forces in the agenda. North Korea has more than a million soldiers along the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas.
Rumsfeld said that while he cannot give specifics about the size or composition of U.S. forces in South Korea, "throughout this process everything I have seen reinforces the importance of the U.S.-ROK relationship and our involvement in that important part of the world.