The following is the text of a joint communiqué issued in Seoul, Korea, on Nov. 17, 2003, by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Republic of Korea Minister of National Defense Yung Kil Cho:
1. The 35th Republic of Korea (ROK)-United States (US) Security Consultative Meeting(SCM) was held in Seoul November 17, 2003. ROK Minister of National Defense Cho Yung Kil and U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld 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 Kim Jong Hwan and General Richard B. Myers, presided over the 25th ROK-US Military Committee Meeting (MCM) November 15, 2003.
2. Secretary Rumsfeld expressed his appreciation for President Roh Moo-hyun's decision to provide additional forces in Iraq and $260 million in Iraq reconstruction funds from 2003 to 2007. He promised that the US would work closely with the Republic of Korea, particularly on intelligence sharing and logistic planning, to ensure a smooth and timely deployment of forces. The Secretary praised the performance of the ROK forces already in Iraq and Afghanistan, noting that they are demonstrating their world-class military capabilities. The Secretary and the Minister agreed on the need to assist the people of Iraq and Afghanistan rebuild their nations and establish stable democratic institutions that prevent aggression and eliminate terrorism. The Secretary and the Minister shared the view that the dispatch of additional ROK forces to Iraq will not only further strengthen the ROK-US alliance but also will serve as an opportunity to increase the ROK's prestige in the international community.
3. Recalling the 50th anniversary of the Armistice Agreement, Minister Cho and Secretary Rumsfeld reaffirmed that the armistice and the United Nations Command have been crucial instruments in maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia. Noting the significance of the 50th Anniversary of the ROK-US Mutual Defense Treaty, signed October 1, 1953, the Secretary and the Minister praised the accomplishments of the alliance over the past half-century, and commended the men and women of the combined ROK-US military forces for their dedication in ensuring peace and prosperity in the region. They both expressed the strong belief that the ROK-US partnership remains fundamental to the interests of the two nations and pledged to continue efforts to strengthen and enhance the alliance for the future.
4. Secretary Rumsfeld and Minister Cho expressed satisfaction with the results to date of the Future of the ROK-US Alliance Policy Initiative (FOTA), which began in 2003, and continues in 2004. They reviewed agreements for the relocation of US forces from the Seoul metropolitan area, enhancement of combined capabilities, transfer of military missions, and the realignment of US forces based in Korea. Both agreed that these initiatives, once fully implemented, will modernize and strengthen the alliance while adapting it to changes in the global security environment. In this regard, the Secretary and the Minister reaffirmed the continuing importance of the strategic flexibility of United States forces in the Republic of Korea.
5. Recalling the agreement of President Roh and President Bush to relocate the US forces from the Seoul metropolitan area at an early date, Secretary Rumsfeld and Minister Cho expressed their regret that the two sides were unable to conclude the agreements before the 35th SCM. The Secretary and the Minister reiterated both governments’ commitment to relocate Yongsan garrison from Seoul metropolitan area at the earliest possible date. The Secretary and the Minister agreed to continue negotiations on this issue.
6. The Minister and the Secretary agreed on the importance of adapting the alliance to changes in the global security environment and of taking advantage of advances in military art and science to transform the combined defense of the ROK. Secretary Rumsfeld reiterated the United States' commitment to a program of enhancements directly related to the defense of the ROK over the next three years, valued at $11 billion. Minister Cho expressed his gratitude for the commitment and renewed his commitment to pursue transformation of the ROK military, while coordinating ROK effort with those of the US, and ensuring enhanced combined operational capabilities for the ROK-US Combined Forces Command.
7. Acknowledging the professionalism and excellence of the ROK military, and the ROK desire for a more predominant role in peninsula defense, Secretary Rumsfeld endorsed the agreement to transfer ten mission areas to ROK forces. Minister Cho reiterated that ROK forces would work closely with the Commander of the Combined Forces Command to ensure that this mission transfer results in an increase in combined readiness.
8. The Secretary and the Minister reaffirmed the principle that the realignment and consolidation of the US forces based in Korea into two hubs south of the Han River will proceed in two phases. They agreed that this realignment and consolidation will improve combined readiness, enhance force protection, increase efficient use and balanced development of ROK land, and provide a basis for an enduring US contribution to peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. Emphasizing that the first phase should begin as soon as possible, they reaffirmed that the exact timing of the second phase of relocations will be determined by the highest national authorities according to the principles expressed in the ROK-US Presidential Joint Press Statements of 14 May and 20 October 2003.
9. The Secretary and the Minister agreed that North Korea continues to pose a global threat to our common interests despite its dire economic circumstances. They shared a grave concern that North Korea's self-acknowledged nuclear weapons program threatens regional and global security and violates North Korea's commitment to a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula. They emphasized that North Korea’s continued development of weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles, along with the danger of exporting those weapons and technologies, are causes of significant concern for the alliance and the international community. They reaffirmed that any North Korean use of weapons of mass destruction would have the gravest consequences.
10. The Secretary and the Minister called on North Korea to completely, verifiably and irreversibly dismantle its nuclear weapons programs and to cease the testing, development, deployment, and export of weapons of mass destruction, missiles, and related technologies. Affirming the solidarity of the ROK-US alliance, and recalling the provisions of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, the International Atomic Energy Safeguards Agreement, and the Joint North-South Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, they shared the view that North Korea should take the opportunity afforded by the Six-Party talks.
11. Assessing the threat posed by North Korea's military to peace and stability in Northeast Asia, the Minister and the Secretary agreed to maintain a strong combined defensive capability to deter North Korean threats. Secretary Rumsfeld reaffirmed the US commitment to the security of the ROK and to the continued provision of a nuclear umbrella for the ROK, consistent with the Mutual Defense Treaty. Secretary Rumsfeld and Minister Cho agreed on the need to continue to maintain a US troop presence on the Korean Peninsula and concurred that the alliance will serve to bolster peace and stability in Northeast Asia and the Asia-Pacific region as a whole.
12. The two delegations agreed that the 35th SCM and the 25th MCM provided an excellent opportunity to further solidify the ROK-US security alliance and address issues related to the current and future security relationship. Secretary Rumsfeld and Minister Cho agreed to hold the next SCM at a mutually convenient time in 2004 in Washington DC.