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Secretary Mattis Remarks at Bilateral Meeting with Republic of Korea Defense Minister Song Young-Moo

Welcome Minister, your Excellency Ambassador Ahn, and military officers, members of the delegation. Welcome to the Pentagon. You are most welcome here.

Thank you for traveling to Washington so soon after your assignment to this post. It is good to meet you in person after we had already spoken earlier this month. This says a great deal about the priority you and your President place on our relationship to come so soon.

The Republic of Korea-U.S. alliance has played an enduring role in regaining and maintaining South Korea’s security since 1950. As President Moon remarked earlier this week, our alliance serves as the foundation of peace on the Korean Peninsula. Our countries share a commitment to democratic values, and we work together to maintain a stable environment in which all pacific nations can prosper.

For 64 years, our countries’ mutual defense treaty has provided a rock-solid basis for collaboration on defense measures – measures designed to keep that peace, to protect the South Korean people and uphold vital American interests.

As we have seen the threat to security in the Northwest Pacific become more severe, our nations’ defense relationship thus becomes more important than ever and a bedrock for international efforts to temper North Korea’s aggressive actions. The recent United Nations Security Council sanctions and ASEAN communique demonstrate the international community’s resolve against North Korean actions. Last evening’s Security Council actions show that the world will not stand for North Korea’s reckless and intolerable behavior.

Here in Washington we are keenly aware that South Korea is on the frontline and we cannot be complacent. We note with confidence that you have pledged to increase defense spending under President Moon. In the interest of keeping our alliance fit for these times, we must continue to deepen our military relationship, building on the high level of trust that exists between our two nations.

As you say in Korean, katchi kapshida, or “we go forward together.” Minister Song, I look forward to the usual transparent dialogue on how we will work together, in what you called an honest and candid conversation.

Again Minister, Excellency, and members of the delegation, welcome to the Pentagon.



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