The U.S.-Republic of Korea Alliance: The Lynchpin for Security and Stability in the Asia-Pacific Region

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U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se address reporters after their bilateral meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Seoul, South Korea, on March 17, 2017.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se address reporters after their bilateral meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Seoul, Republic of Korea, on March 17, 2017.

The U.S.-Republic of Korea Alliance: The Lynchpin for Security and Stability in the Asia-Pacific Region

On March 17, Secretary Tillerson traveled to the Republic of Korea for meetings with senior officials to discuss bilateral and multilateral issues, including the United States’ “ironclad” support of the U.S.-Republic of Korea alliance and the growing threat of North Korea.

Secretary Tillerson shakes hands with acting South Korean President and Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn prior to their meeting at the government complex in Seoul, Republic of Korea.

In his remarks alongside Acting President Kyo-ahn, the Secretary stressed the importance of our strong and historic people-to-people ties, our growing economic cooperation, and our strong alliance around security in response to the growing threat from North Korea. “I look forward to our discussions on how we can ensure a future that is secure, stable, and prosperous, not just for the Korean Peninsula, but for all of Northeast Asia,” he stated.During his visit, Secretary Tillerson met with Acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn. Before their meeting, the two leaders delivered joint remarks that underscored the strong relationship between the Republic of Korea and the United States. Secretary Tillerson reaffirmed the ironclad alliance between our two nations, which he noted was “the lynchpin for security and stability in the Asia-Pacific Peninsula.”

Secretary Tillerson also met with Republic of Korea’s Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se. In a joint press conference before their meeting, Secretary Tillerson reaffirmed the United States’ commitment that the partnership between our nations will endure under the Trump Administration. The Secretary acknowledged the importance of our alliance as a pillar of peace and security across the Korean Peninsula and the Asia-Pacific Region, particularly in the face of the regional security challenges posed by North Korea.

Secretary Tillerson poses for a photo with South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se after the counterparts addressed reporters at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Seoul, Republic of Korea.

Emphasizing the United States’ unwavering commitment to our allies in the face of North Korea's grave and escalating global threat, the Secretary made clear, “the policy of strategic patience has ended. We are exploring a new range of diplomatic, security, and economic measures. All options are on the table. North Korea must understand that the only path to a secure, economically-prosperous future is to abandon its development of nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, and other weapons of mass destruction.

“We stand together in facing what was once a regional security challenge, but today North Korea threatens not only its regional neighbors, but the United States and other countries. Efforts toward North Korea to achieve peaceful stability over the last two decades have failed to make us safer. The U.S. and our allies have repeatedly reassured North Korea's leaders that we seek only peace, stability, and economic prosperity for Northeast Asia,” he commented.

Secretary Tillerson called on other regional powers and all nations to join the United States in demanding that the North Korean government choose a better path and a different future for its people. “The United States is committed to supporting the defense of our allies, and we will continue to develop a comprehensive set of capabilities to counter the growing North Korean ballistic missile threat,” he said.

Secretary TIllerson closed his statement by highlighting the strong foundation on which the United States alliance with the Republic of Korea stands, noting that it is built “not only on security, but our commitment to our core principles that have enabled the success of our nations: a strong economic partnership, deep people-to-people ties, and democratic values.”

Editor's Note: This entry also appears on the U.S. Department of State's publication on Medium.com.

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