SEC. GATES: This is my third visit to the demilitarized zone and the observation tower. Looking out across the DMZ, it is stunning how little has changed up there and yet how much South Korea continues to grow and prosper. The North, by contrast, stagnates in isolation and deprivation. And as we saw with the sinking of the Cheonan, it continues its history of unpredictable and, at times, provocative behavior.
So we are here today not just to show our appreciation for the vital work U.S., ROK, and other forces do maintaining the armistice, but, also, to send a strong signal to the North, to the region, and to the world that our commitment to South Korea’s security is steadfast. In fact, our military alliance has never been stronger and it should deter any potential aggressor.
SEC. CLINTON: This is my first visit to the DMZ, to Freedom House, to the UN Armistice Headquarters.
And as we were at the Observation Post looking out at what is a thin, 3-mile separation between the North and the South, it struck me that although it may be a thin line, these two places are worlds apart.
The Republic of Korea has made extraordinary progress. It has leaders who care about he well-being of the people. It has an economy that is growing and creating jobs and opportunities. It has a commitment to common values of democracy and freedom.
By contrast, the North has not only stagnated in isolation, but the people of the North have suffered for so many years.
I am grateful to the men and women from the Republic of Korea, the United States of America and the multinational force, who today are standing watch for freedom and who are in a long line of those who came before over the last six decades, who have helped to protect South Korea.
At the same time we continue to send a message to the North. There is another way. There is a way that can benefit the people of the North.
But until they change direction, the United States stands firmly on behalf of the people and government of the Republic of Korea, where we provide a stalwart defense along with our allies and partners.