Remarks by Secretary of State Kerry With President Park Geun-hye of South Korea

Seoul, South Korea–(ENEWSPF)–February 13, 2014.

PRESIDENT PARK: (Via interpreter) I am delighted to meet with you again, Mr. Secretary. You last visited Korea back in April of last year, and this year you’ve also come at a very critical time, and I’m sure that today your visit will serve as an occasion for moving our relationship forward as well. And incidentally, you also bring with you good tidings with regard to President Obama’s visit, in the latter half of April. We welcome that news.

SECRETARY KERRY: Look, I didn’t want to walk in here without that. (Laughter.)

PRESIDENT PARK: (Via interpreter) I have read through various media reports and I’ve received various news about how hard you’ve been working ever since you took office as Secretary of State in terms of dealing with, for instance, the Iranian nuclear issue and the proliferation of Iranian – and the proliferation aspect of Iran’s nuclear program, as well as the Syrian issue, and other – some of the world’s most difficult issues. And I read how you’ve exercised and demonstrated extraordinary caliber in dealing with these issues. I’m also very well aware of your active diplomacy. And indeed I am told that in the service of upholding peace around the world and dealing with various international entities, you’ve traveled a distance that amounts to circling the globe 13 times. (Laughter.)

SECRETARY KERRY: (Inaudible.) Now you’ve scared me. (Laughter.)

PRESIDENT PARK: (Inaudible.) (Laughter.)

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, thank you. Madam President, thank you so much. First of all, I’ll tell you, it’s a great privilege to have a chance to be able to meet again. President Obama is very excited about being able to come and visit, because it’s, as you’ve said, a very, very important time. There’s a lot happening. Frankly, there’s too much tension – difficult, complicated and historical issues, and a huge need for us to be able to continue to keep our alliance as strong and effective as it has been.

I think you know that the President and all of us in America believe that this is an essential alliance, an essential partnership, and we’re very, very grateful to you for a strong 60 years behind us; now we can plan on the next 60 years. And I think North Korea, obviously, the challenge of their nuclear program remains an essential security issue. And then, of course, the other issues in the region which you and I will have a chance to talk about.

But we’re very grateful to you for your leadership and your cooperation on Afghanistan, and Syria, on Iran. And I have enjoyed enormously our relationship with (inaudible), Minister Yun, (inaudible) to conduct this conversation. And so today (inaudible) that hopefully we can map out a few things.