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Secretary of Defense Joint Remarks with South Korean Defense Minister Han Min Koo, Seoul, Republic of Korea

Well, good morning everyone. And thank you, Minister Han, for your warm welcome.


I first visited your valiant country as a 21-year-old lieutenant many years ago and it's good to be back. I appreciate you hosting me and sharing your assessments of the situation we face today.


As you noted, Minister Han, this is my first overseas trip as secretary of defense and I'm here to underscore America's priority commitment to our bilateral alliance and to make clear the administration's full commitment to the United Nations mission in defense of your democracy.


I look forward to working closely together with you and sharing our perspectives is essential to strengthening our already strong teamwork. Yesterday and this morning, I met with acting President Hwang, National Security Adviser Kim and Foreign Minister Yun. From those meetings, I gained a deeper sense of the trusted bonds between our countries built on shared interests and values.


The United States stands by its commitments and we stand with our ally, the South Korean people. Our alliance is a testament to mutual commitment and respect and it is a linchpin of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.


In cooperation with all our allies and partners, the United States seeks to ensure a peaceful, secure and free Asia-Pacific region. Our warm, respectful and mutual supporting relationship shows what democracies can accomplish when guided by a spirit of collaboration in defense of peace and prosperity.


North Korea continues to launch missiles, develop its nuclear weapons program and engage in threatening rhetoric and behavior. We stand with our peace-loving Republic of Korea ally to maintain stability on the peninsula and in the region. America's commitments to defending our allies and to upholding our extended deterrence guarantees remain ironclad. Any attack on the United States or on our allies will be defeated and any use of nuclear weapons would be met with the response that would be effective and overwhelming.


Due to North Korea's threatening rhetoric and destabilizing behavior, we are taking defensive steps, like deploying the highly effective THAAD antimissile unit to the Republic of Korea, to protect its people and our troops that stand beside our ally. We are also committed to expanding trilateral venues of cooperation with Japan where the mutual defense of our nations is best served through teamwork.


Today, Minister Han and I will discuss other ways to make certain our militaries are always ready to protect this republic.


Minister Han, it is a privilege to meet with you today. I look forward to our partnership as we work to find common ground for deeper collaboration and to strengthen our strategic alliance. Together, and with a spirit of collaboration, I'm confident we'll continue to provide for the security and prosperity of our nations and the region.


(UNTRANSLATED) and thank you.


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