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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 665-97
December 09, 1997

29TH US/REPUBLIC OF KOREA SECURITY CONSULTATIVE MEETINGJoint CommuniquDecember 9,1997

1. The 29th US-ROK Security Consultative Meeting (SCM) was held in Washington DC, on December 9, 1997. US Secretary of Defense William Cohen and ROK Minister of National Defense Kim Dong-Jin led their respective delegations, which included senior defense and foreign affairs officials. Before the SCM, the Chairmen of the respective Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Henry Shelton and General Yoon Yong-Nam, presided over the 19th US-ROK Military Committee Meeting (MCM) on December 9. The 29th SCM/19th MCM were originally scheduled to be held in Seoul, but Secretary Cohen and General Shelton were unable to travel there due to unforeseen developments.

2. Secretary Cohen and Minister Kim assessed the current international security situation and the security environment on and around the Korean Peninsula. They reaffirmed that the security of the Korean Peninsula is vital to the stability and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region as well as to the security of the United States. Both Ministers noted that US forces in Korea have made, and continue to make, a significant contribution to the deterrence of war on the Korean Peninsula and to the stability of Northeast Asia.

3. Both Ministers reaffirmed the central importance of inter-Korean dialogue in matters involving the Korean Peninsula, since South and North Korea are naturally the parties most directly concerned. They emphasized that both Koreas should resume inter-Korean dialogue on the basis of the "Agreement on Reconciliation, Non-aggression, and Exchanges and Cooperation between the South and the North" (the South-North Basic Agreement) of 1992 and the US-DPRK Agreed Framework of 1994.

4. Both Ministers concurred that the Four Party talks proposed by the US and ROK Presidents on April 16, 1996, provide the most realistic means to reduce tensions and achieve lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula. The Secretary and the Minister welcomed the opening of formal Four Party talks in Geneva on December 9, and expressed the hope that all participants would make sincere efforts to achieve substantial progress in that forum. They reaffirmed that the Military Armistice Agreement of 1953 remains valid until superseded by a permanent peace arrangement.

5. Secretary Cohen and Minister Kim reaffirmed that the "Joint Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," agreed in February 1992, should be fully implemented and that North Korea's pledge in the US-DPRK Agreement to freeze and eventually dismantle its existing nuclear facilities should be faithfully upheld. The two Ministers, noting that the light-water reactor (LWR) project in North Korea is proceeding smoothly, called on North Korea to ensure full transparency of its past, present, and future nuclear activities in conformity with the Agreed Framework. They also urged North Korea to come into full compliance with its obligations under the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) and its IAEA safeguards agreement.

6. Secretary Cohen and Minister Kim expressed deep concern that North Korea continues to threaten US and ROK national interests on the Peninsula and in Northeast Asia. In particular, both Ministers shared the view that North Korean crossings of the Military Demarcation Line within the DMZ heighten tensions and violate the Armistice Agreement. Both Ministers also expressed serious concern that North Korea, despite profound economic difficulties, continues to develop and produce major weapons systems, such as submarines and long-range artillery and missiles. They also noted that North Korea's chemical weapons pose a threat to the security of the ROK and urged North Korea to accede promptly to the Chemical Weapons Convention. They further agreed that the use of inhumane weaponry such as chemical and biological weapons would not be tolerated in any situation.

7. Secretary Cohen and Minister Kim agreed that the US-ROK security alliance remains strong and is steadfastly maintaining combined defense readiness against a wide range of possible threats. Secretary Cohen reaffirmed the US commitment to render prompt and effective assistance to the ROK for repelling any armed attack against the ROK in accordance with the US-ROK Mutual Defense Treaty, and to provide a nuclear umbrella for the ROK. The two Ministers stressed that the combined US-ROK forces on the Peninsula are a defensive force that should continue to maintain and develop combined readiness, tactics, doctrine, professionalism, training and interoperability. The Ministers discussed several practical measures to strengthen deterrence, including the early deployment of US reinforcements in an emergency, preparation against North Korean chemical weapons attack, and improvements in combined exercises. Both Ministers shared the view that a robust schedule of combined exercises is vital to deterring war on the Peninsula and enhancing combined defense readiness.

8. The Ministers noted strong international interest in banning antipersonnel landmines from a humanitarian standpoint. However, they reiterated that the use of anti-personnel landmines is vital not only to deterrence but also to the defeat of aggression on the Korean Peninsula. They agreed that, until either the North Korean military threat against the ROK disappears or an alternative to anti-personnel landmines is developed, the US-ROK combined forces will continue to use anti-personnel landmines on the Korean Peninsula. Secretary Cohen noted the US objective of having such alternatives ready by 2006. They agreed to exert their utmost effort to prevent harm to civilians when using landmines on the Korean Peninsula.

9. Secretary Cohen and Minister Kim noted that serious economic difficulties in North Korea, including a dire food shortage, have raised questions about the characteristics of security challenges on the Korean Peninsula. However, positive developments could also occur on the Korean Peninsula, especially with progress in the Four Party Talks. In these uncertain circumstances, the two Ministers agreed that it is only prudent for the US and ROK to be jointly prepared for a wide range of possibilities

10. Regarding the long-term future of the bilateral security alliance, the Ministers believe that the US and ROK will continue to share democratic values and security interests even after the immediate threat to stability has receded on the Korean Peninsula. The two Ministers concurred that the alliance will serve to keep peace and stability in Northeast Asia and the Asia-Pacific region as a whole. Minister Kim and Secretary Cohen affirmed that the US and ROK will continue to work together worldwide to promote the peaceful resolution of conflicts based on their shared values. They also agreed that the two countries can most effectively promote these common values and interests by maintaining their bilateral security alliance for the long term, while adapting it to changing circumstances. The US and ROK governments will further discuss, develop, and articulate their views on this important matter.

11. The two Ministers expressed satisfaction over the results achieved in the USFK-MND Brigadier General Contentious Issues Task Force talks on the use and return of facilities and areas granted to USFK, including the return of the Tongduchon training area. They agreed to continue discussions on such issues as land encroachment and the relocation of Camp Hialeah. The two Ministers agreed to exert their best efforts for the early conclusion of the SOFA revision process.

12. Minister Kim and Secretary Cohen expressed their appreciation for the important contributions of the SCM subcommittees on policy review, logistics cooperation, security cooperation, and defense technology and industry cooperation. The Ministers agreed to further develop bilateral cooperation in the fields of logistics, defense industry, and technology.

13. The two delegations agreed that the 29th SCM and the 19th MCM provided an excellent opportunity to further solidify the US-ROK security alliance and address issues related to the current and future security relationship. Secretary Cohen and Minister Kim agreed to maintain close consultations and to hold the next SCM at a mutually convenient time in 1998 in Seoul.

14. Secretary Cohen expressed his appreciation to Minister Kim and the ROK delegation for their understanding of the circumstances that prevented the Secretary from traveling to Seoul for the 29th SCM. Minister Kim expressed his gratitude to Secretary Cohen for the excellent arrangements that made this meeting successful and for the warm welcome and gracious hospitality.