Joint Press Release by the United States of America and the Republic of Korea
President Donald J. Trump’s State Visit to the Republic of Korea
On November 7-8, President Donald J. Trump made the first state visit to the Republic of Korea by a United States President in 25 years. The President participated in an official state dinner at the Cheongwadae and his third bilateral summit with Republic of Korea President Moon Jae-in, addressed the National Assembly, and met with American and South Korean military service members. President Trump laid a wreath at the National Cemetery honoring those South Koreans who gave their lives to defend and support their country during the Korean War and reaffirmed the unwavering commitment of the United States to the Republic of Korea’s defense. President Trump highlighted that the United States-Republic of Korea Alliance, built upon mutual trust and shared values of freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law, remains a linchpin for security, stability, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific. The two leaders stressed the Alliance had matured over more than six decades into a multi-pillared relationship including security cooperation, economic partnership, people-to-people ties, and global leadership.
President Trump and President Moon pledged to maintain close consultation, coordination, and cooperation on North Korea policy. The two presidents urged North Korea to abandon its illicit weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs, which deepen its diplomatic isolation and economic hardship. The two presidents affirmed their full support and commitment to the coordinated global pressure to bring North Korea back to authentic and credible denuclearization talks. The two leaders noted that North Korea now poses a threat to the entire world and committed to faithfully and thoroughly implement all relevant U.N. Security Council Resolutions, including 2371 and 2375. President Trump welcomed President Moon’s recent efforts to harmonize sanctions designations by the Republic of Korea and the United States. President Trump emphasized that his top priority is protecting the United States and our allies against North Korean aggression, and remains prepared to use the full range of United States military capabilities, both nuclear and conventional, to defend against the growing threat from North Korea. President Trump and President Moon committed on the need for China to exert its unique leverage to make a diplomatic solution possible. President Trump and President Moon discussed North Korea’s malicious cyber activities and emphasized efforts to enhance cyber cooperation, including through the United States-Republic of Korea Cyber Dialogue. The two presidents condemned North Korea’s egregious human rights record and committed to continue to compelling North Korea to respect its people’s human rights, including through cooperation with international organizations. President Trump and President Moon reaffirmed that the United States and Republic of Korea stand ready to support a brighter future for North Korea if it chooses the right path.
Defense Measures and Foreign Military Sales: In response to the North Korea threat, President Trump and President Moon decided to further strengthen the United States-Republic of Korea Alliance defensive posture and capabilities through the acquisition of advanced military equipment and the enhanced deployment of United States strategic military assets in and around the Republic on a rotational basis.
● President Trump and President Moon acknowledged the desire for equitable cost sharing of United States military forces stationed in the Republic of Korea and noted the more than $9 billion contribution from the Republic of Korea to the Camp Humphreys expansion. The two leaders intend to continue to strengthen the Alliance’s combined defense posture and capabilities, including through defense cost-sharing measures in the upcoming Special Measures Agreement discussions.
● President Trump acknowledged the Republic of Korea’s adoption of its Revised Missile Guidelines 2017 to remove payload restrictions on Republic of Korea ballistic missiles to combat the nature of the North Korean threat. President Trump highlighted the successful Alliance deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile defense system.
● President Trump and President Moon reiterated their intent to boost trilateral security cooperation with Japan for enhanced deterrence and defense against North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats. The two leaders committed to continue trilateral exercises on missile warning and anti-submarine warfare, as well as to expand information sharing and to enhance joint response capabilities against the North Korean threat. President Trump and President Moon noted that in an effort to modernize the military, and in part to meet the Alliance’s operational requirements, the Republic of Korea made more than $13 billion in military purchases over the past three years from the United States through the Foreign Military Sales and Direct Commercial Sales systems.
● President Moon shared his plan to substantially increase defense spending by 2022, which will help cover the Republic of Korea’s financial commitments made by past administrations to major United States origin programs such as F-35A Joint Strike Fighter, KF-16 Fighter Jets upgrade, Patriot PAC-3 ballistic missile defense upgrade, AH-64E Apache heavy attack helicopter, Global Hawk high-altitude UAV, and AEGIS combat systems. President Trump reaffirmed his support for the Republic of Korea’s acquisition and development of highly advanced military assets, including advanced reconnaissance systems.
Economics, Trade, and Investment: President Trump and President Moon affirmed the importance of strengthening United States-Republic of Korea economic, trade, and investment ties. President Trump underscored the need to rebalance KORUS FTA in order to reduce the substantial United States trade deficit with the Republic of Korea and to achieve more expanded, balanced and reciprocal trade. President Trump and President Moon instructed their trade officials to conclude an improved agreement expeditiously.
● During the President’s visit to the Republic of Korea, at the Republic of Korea Chamber of Commerce Business Roundtable on November 8, 42 ROK companies announced their intent to implement 64 projects in the United States over the next four years (2017-2021) valued at $17.3 billion. Twenty-four South Korean companies announced planned purchases of U.S. goods and services valued at $57.5 billion, to include $22.8 billion in energy purchases.
● Republic of Korea foreign direct investment (FDI) in the United States has nearly doubled since 2011 from $19.7 billion to $38.8 billion in 2016 – making the ROK the second largest Asian source of foreign direct investment into the United States. ROK firms support nearly 52,000 U.S. jobs. According to the announcements made by Korean firms concerned, major recent investments by South Korean firms include: $3.1 billion by Lotte Chemical to build a petrochemical facility in Louisiana; $800 million by Hankook Tire to build a new factory in Clarksville, Tennessee, employing 1,800 people; and $370 million by SK in Texas in the manufacturing of ethylene acrylic acid.
● Additional planned investments announced recently include $300 million by LG Electronics for a new facility in New Jersey by 2019, and new investments in major research and development facilities by Samsung and others in California and expansion of Samsung’s semiconductor fabrication facility in Austin, Texas, making it the largest single foreign investment in the United States.
Global Partnership: President Trump and President Moon affirmed that United States-Republic of Korea cooperation on global issues is an indispensable and expanding aspect of our Alliance and decided to advance future-oriented cooperation through high-level consultations in the areas of energy, science and technology, space, environment, and health. They announced a new Partnership in Energy Security, Health Security, and Women’s Economic Empowerment.
● The United States and Republic of Korea support universal access to affordable and reliable energy, which supports job creation, enhances security, and promotes economic growth. The Korea Gas Corp. (KOGAS) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Alaska Gasline Development Corp. that establishes a cooperative framework for the development of Alaska’s natural gas infrastructure. KOGAS also signed an MOU with Lake Charles LNG Export Company, LLC, to review a potential liquefaction project. The Republic of Korea’s SK Group signed a long-term agreement with Continental Resources to develop Oklahoma’s unconventional hydrocarbon fields that could lead to new exports of American energy.
● Both countries committed to continue demonstrating leadership within the Global Health Security Agenda and each country recognized the benefits of combining efforts to combat the spread of infectious diseases, conduct joint research, and share information and best practices.
● The two countries committed to working together to support the important economic role that women play in their societies, including launching an initiative to promote women’s entrepreneurship and women in STEM, both domestically and in developing countries.
● President Trump and President Moon decided to convene a multilateral, non-military regional dialogue on disaster management planning and support efforts in U.N. peacekeeping operations, the refugee crisis and other humanitarian crises, Afghanistan, Syria, counterpiracy, and counter terrorism and violent extremism.
● President Trump congratulated President Moon on the upcoming February 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, and highlighted United States support for a successful Olympic Games.
● President Trump expressed his appreciation for President Moon’s hospitality during his visit to the Republic of Korea. The two leaders stated that they look forward to meeting again to continue close coordination on North Korea and other important bilateral issues at a mutually convenient time.
President Donald J. Trump’s Visit to the Republic of Korea
“Together, our two nations will handle threats to peace and security, stand up to those who would threaten our freedom, and boldly seize the incredible opportunities for a better, brighter, and more prosperous tomorrow.” – President Donald J. Trump
STRENGTHEN INTERNATIONAL RESOLVE TO DENUCLEARIZE NORTH KOREA: President Donald J. Trump strengthened international resolve to address the security challenges presented by North Korea.
• The United States and Republic of Korea urged North Korea to abandon its illicit weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs that deepen its diplomatic and economic isolation.
• The United States and Republic of Korea reaffirmed their commitment to the Maximum Pressure Campaign to bring North Korea back to the path of denuclearization.
• President Trump emphasized the United States’ priority of defending the Republic of Korea against North Korean aggression, and reaffirmed the commitment of the United States to enhancing United States strategic asset deployment on a rotational basis.
• President Trump and President Moon welcomed the adoption of the Republic of Korea’s Revised Missile Guidelines (2017) to remove Republic of Korea missile payload restrictions to combat the North Korean threat.
• The two leaders pledged to boost trilateral security cooperation with Japan for enhanced deterrence and defense against North Korean aggression.
PROMOTE A FREE AND OPEN INDO-PACIFIC REGION: President Trump strengthened the United States-Republic of Korea alliance, which contributes to a free and open Indo-Pacific.
• The President delivered clear public messages that the United States-Republic of Korea alliance, which is built on mutual trust and shared values of freedom, democracy, human rights, and rule of law, remains the linchpin of security, stability, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region.
• President Trump and President Moon committed to strengthening alliance defense and deterrence capabilities, including through the Republic of Korea’s acquisition and development of highly advanced military assets to counter North Korean aggression, which now threatens the entire world.
ADVANCE AMERICA’S PROSPERITY: President Trump promoted American prosperity and trade, including through new investments and energy sales that will lead to more American jobs.
• The two leaders stated their commitment to improving the Korea-United States Free Trade Agreement (KORUS) and to reducing the United States’ trade deficit with the Republic of Korea and achieving balanced and reciprocal trade between the two countries.
• On November 8, Republic of Korea companies announced 64 new projects, worth over $17 billion, in the United States over the next four years and plans to purchase $58 billion in United States goods and services, including $23 billion in energy purchases.
• President Trump and President Moon praised robust Korean investment in the United States, which will result in thousands of jobs for Americans.
Remarks by President Trump Before Operational Briefing at Camp Humphreys
Republic of Korea
1:53 P.M. KST
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you very much. I just want to thank General Brooks and everybody that is working with us so hard on the situation in South Korea. Terrific people.
I had a choice of having a beautiful, very fancy lunch, and I said, no, I want to eat with the troops. And we ate with the troops. And it was good eating. It was good eating. And I tell you, they’ve done a terrific job. Very impressive.
And we have a very strong schedule today and, actually, for the next nine days. As you know, we just got back from Japan where we had a very successful two days. Today will be pretty busy and tomorrow also. And then we head to China. And I look forward to that.
There’s great cooperation. We have a terrific meeting scheduled on trade in a little while with President Moon and his representatives. And we will — hopefully, that will start working out, and working out so that we create lots of jobs in the United States, which is one the reasons — one of the very important reasons I’m here.
In addition to that, we’ll be meeting with the various generals — General Brooks and the various generals — about the situation in North Korea. And I think we’re going to have lots of good answers for you over a period of time, and ultimately it will all work out. Because it always works out — has to work out.
So I want to thank you all for being here. We appreciate it. Thank you very much. We’re going to see you in a little while. And I think about 4:30, we’re going to be separately meeting with you.
But we appreciate it. I hope you had a good flight here. Many of you were on the flight with me, so I know it was pretty good. And I think you’re probably just as impressed as I am. This is a very impressive group of people, beyond facilities — people. These are very impressive people.
So, General, thank you very much. Appreciate it. Thank you.
Remarks by President Trump and President Moon of the Republic of Korea Before One-on-One Bilateral Meeting
Seoul, Republic of Korea
3:39 P.M. KST
PRESIDENT MOON: (As interpreted.) As President of the United States, this is the first state visit to Korea in 25 years. And since the launch of my new administration, this is the first state visit that I’m receiving from overseas. I would like to warmly welcome you and Mrs. Trump both to Korea and to Cheong Wa Dae.
So I hope that I will have an opportunity to repay the warm hospitality that I received from you when I visited Washington, D.C. in June.
And I heard this past Sunday there was some tragic news from Texas. I believe that you would have the even more heavier heart because you were traveling overseas when this happened. On behalf of the Korean government and the Korean people, I would like to convey my heartfelt condolences to you, Mr. President, and the American people.
And also, I would like to congratulate you in advance. Tomorrow is your one-year anniversary of your election victory. And I believe it has not been one year yet, your time in office, but you have already — you are already making great progress on making America great again, as you have promised on the campaign trail.
And I would like to congratulate you on the progress that you’ve been making on the economy and also the fact that the stock market has continued to break new records every day. And thanks to that, the stock market in Korea is also performing very well. It is good to know that both of us are doing very well.
And I would also like to commend you on your efforts in leading the international collaboration and unity when it comes to countering North Korea nuclear issue. I know that you have put this issue at the top of your security agenda.
So I hope that your visit to Korea and to the Asia Pacific region will serve as an opportunity to relieve some of the anxiety that the Korean people have due to North Korea’s provocations, and also serve as a turning point in resolving the North Korean nuclear issue.
The Korean people welcome you as one, and we have great expectations.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you very much. President Moon, I want to thank you so much for that beautiful ceremony. It doesn’t get more beautiful than that, and I know the work that was put into it. And I watched all of those tens of thousands of people along the route in proudly waving your flag, your great flag, and also waving the American flag, in many cases. I was very happy to see such spirit. You have tremendous spirit in this country, and it’s a great country.
I just have to say that it’s an honor to be with you and your beautiful wife. And we look forward to having a very successful, really, day of talks. We’ll start right now and we’ll conclude sometime tomorrow. And then I go off to China, where we look forward to a tremendous success, also. We just left Japan, and there’s a great spirit. It’s a great part of the world, and it’s a very tremendous honor to be here and to be with you.
And again, I very much appreciate the reception. Thank you very much.
3:45 P.M. KST
1:55 P.M. KST
The White House
Remarks by President Trump and President Moon of Korea Before Expanded Bilateral Meeting
Seoul, Republic of Korea
4:06 P.M. KST
PRESIDENT MOON: (No translation provided.)
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, thank you very much, Mr. President. And it’s an honor to be here with my representatives. And we’re going to have a very busy full day ahead.
It is interesting that it is one year, as of tomorrow, that we had our election victory. And it was great victory, and a victory that made a lot of people very happy. And our country is doing very well from the standpoint of the economy. It’s doing record numbers, record stock market, 17-year low. We have the lowest unemployment that we’ve had in 17 years. And we’ve created trillions and trillions of dollars of value for our country. So we’re very happy.
We’re now working on massive tax cuts for our people, especially our companies which produce jobs in our middle class. And I think that’s going along very well. We hope we’re going to be victorious and get that big tax cut which the American people want.
I had a great time at Camp Humphreys today visiting with the U.S. and the South Korean troops. They are very impressive. Thank you. And as we very easily remember, because it was so good — we had lunch together with the troops. And we had the option of having a magnificent restaurant, a beautiful room, and I said, let’s have it with the troops. And we were very happy about it. It’s a great facility — Camp Humphreys — and it really is a very special place. Tremendous cost — a lot of it spent by your government to make your country safe. And any time you spend wisely for the military, that’s always a good thing to do.
And your military is becoming very strong. Our military is now going to be, very soon, at the strongest level. We’re committed to spending $700 billion, and that number may even go up. For our military, we’re ordering new jet fighters, new equipment of virtually every kind. We make the finest equipment in the world, and you’re buying a lot of it, and we appreciate that. And you’ll be buying a lot of our military equipment. There’s nobody that comes close, whether it’s the planes, the missiles, the ships — anything you want to talk about — there’s nothing like what we do in that sense. And we appreciate your big purchase orders for military equipment.
The North Korea situation will be a discussion that we will have front and center. And hopefully something is going to be very successfully worked out on that. And trade is something that we always talk; it’s one of my favorite subjects. I guess it’s one of the reasons that I had that great, successful victory
last year, at this time. So we’ll be discussing trade also.
We’d like to do much more business with South Korea, where South Korea is going to order a lot more. But the good news is, you will be ordering. I mean, we’ve already worked on that. And through our representatives, the amount of equipment and things that you’ll be ordering from the United States will be very substantially increased and therefore we’ll be bringing the trade deficit way down, which is very important to our people. We have trade deficits with numerous countries, and we don’t want to have trade deficits. So we appreciate that very much. And what you’re getting is the finest equipment anywhere in the world.
So we’ll discuss North Korea, we’ll discuss trade, we’ll discuss other things, and I really was honored by that ceremony today. That was a beautiful, beautiful ceremony at the highest level. No matter where you’d go, you could never see that. That is just as beautiful as it can be, and it represented your country so well. And I just want to thank you for that. That was a real honor.
And it’s an honor to be with you, and I look forward to spending the rest of today and a good part of tomorrow on negotiating. We’ll negotiate some of those good deals, both ways. Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.)
4:16 P.M. KST
The White House
Remarks by President Trump and President Moon of the Republic of Korea in Joint Press Conference | Seoul, Republic of Korea
Seoul, Republic of Korea
5:20 P.M. EDT
PRESIDENT MOON: (As interpreted.) I extend my heartfelt welcome to the visit by Your Excellency, President Donald Trump, and Madam First Lady to the Republic of Korea. His visit marks the first state visit by the U.S. President to Korea in 25 years. And President Trump is also the first state guest for myself and my government. This special bond forged between President Trump and myself, I find it very meaningful and I am gratified to be part of it.
President Trump and I met and communicated with each other numerous times, building deep trust and consolidating our friendship. Today we had candid discussions about steadfastness of ROK-U.S. alliance. Moreover, we agreed to work towards resolving North Korean nuclear issue in a peaceful manner and bringing permanent peace to the Korean Peninsula.
Against escalating nuclear and missile threats from North Korea, we reaffirmed our principle that we must maintain a strong stance toward North Korean threats based on overwhelming superiority of power. President Trump has reaffirmed his ironclad commitment to defend Korea, and President Trump and I agreed to further strengthen the robust combined defense posture of our two countries. In this regard, President Trump and I agreed to expend rotational deployment of U.S. strategic assets in and around Korean Peninsula.
We will step up our collaboration to enhance Korea’s self-defense capability to unprecedented levels. To this end, we reached a conclusion today to lift the payload limit on Korean missiles completely, with a final agreement. We also agreed to begin consultation for Korea’s acquisitions and development of Korea’s state-of-art military reconnaissance assets.
Once again, we strongly urge North Korea to halt its nuclear and missile provocation, and to come to a dialogue table for denuclearization as soon as possible. President Trump and I reaffirmed our current strategy, which is to maximize pressure and sanctions on North Korea until it gives up nuclear weapons and to come to the table for dialogue on its own.
At the same time, should North Korea choose to make the right choice, we also reaffirmed our view that we are willing to offer North Korea a bright future. Based on such common approach between our two countries, we will continue to lead efforts to bring peaceful and fundamental solutions to North Korean nuclear issues.
We will maintain close collaboration with the international community, including the neighboring countries. I sincerely hope that President Trump’s visit at this time will be a turning point for the situation on the Korean Peninsula in a stable manner.
Today, President Trump and I visited Pyeongtaek base, which is a symbolic venue for showing the future of ROK-U.S. alliance and also Korea’s contribution to the alliance.
As we gave our words of encouragement to Korean and American servicemembers while striving to realize our common goal, we could feel the strong friendship of Korea and U.S. alliance on the site. President Trump and I also agreed to continue strengthening of the combined defense postures and capabilities of the bilateral alliance by pursuing defense cost-sharing at an adequate and reasonable level.
Last, but not least, we reaffirmed that economic cooperation is an important pillar of ROK-U.S. alliance. We share the view that economic cooperation is a critical element in our efforts to pursue sustainable and future-orientated ROK-U.S. alliance.
In order to enjoy the benefit of free, equitable, and balanced trade together, we agreed to have the relevant authorities expedite the process of KORUS FTA consultation. By sharing the universal value and the fruits of economic prosperity with the humankind, President Trump and I agreed to make a joint contribution to the peace and prosperity of the world.
We also agreed to continue strengthening cooperation for global challenges, including issues of terrorism, women, human rights, and public health.
President Trump requested that I need to talk with him continuously, and we agreed that we will continuously have frequent and close communications. And by doing that, we’ll further strengthen the trust and ties between us, and also solidify the bilateral alliance.
Once again, I extend a warm welcome to President and Madam First Lady’s visit to Korea. Please enjoy the beautiful autumn weather and find deepening of friendship in our two countries, as well as our two leaders. Thank you. (Applause.)
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you very much, President Moon. Thank you for honoring us with the invitation to be here today and for the incredibly warm welcome and magnificent ceremony you have given us during our first trip to the very beautiful city of Seoul. Thank you very much.
Melania and I had a wonderful time having tea with you and First Lady Kim — thank you — at the beautiful Blue House, which I’ve heard so much about, and I’ll get to visit and see firsthand. We’re looking forward to joining you for dinner this evening, and we have much to discuss.
Today, the President and I had an opportunity to talk about a range of vital economic and security matters, including our trade relationship and our joint efforts to solve North Korea’s grave nuclear threat to South Korea and, indeed, the entire world. This is a worldwide problem.
The Republic of Korea is more than a longstanding ally of the United States. We are partners and friends who have fought side-by-side in a war, and, really, worked very hard and prospered toward a great and lasting peace.
I feel confident that we’ll be able to reach a free, fair, and reciprocal trade deal as we renegotiate our current five-year-old trade document. We cannot allow North Korea to threaten all that we have built — and we have built it very much together, and we’re very, very proud of it, also, together — but all that we’ve built in the decade since our soldiers sacrificed side-by-side in the struggle for freedom. Our alliance is more important than ever to peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and across the Indo-Pacific region.
That is why Vice President Pence, Secretary of State Tillerson, who is with us today, and Secretary of Defense Mattis, who was here just a short time ago, have all traveled to Seoul in the first year of my administration. It was very important to me that they did.
North Korea’s sixth test of a nuclear device and its missile launches are a threat not only to the people of South Korea but to the people all across our globe. We will together confront North Korea’s actions and prevent the North Korean dictator from threatening millions of innocent lives. He is indeed threatening millions and millions of lives so needlessly.
North Korea is a worldwide threat that requires worldwide action. We call on every responsible nation, including China and Russia, to demand that the North Korean regime end its nuclear weapons and its missile programs, and live in peace. As the South Korean people know so well, it’s time to act with urgency and with great determination.
All nations must implement U.N. Security Council regulations and cease trade and business entirely with North Korea. It is unacceptable that nations would help to arm and finance this increasingly dangerous regime.
As we work together to resolve this problem using all available tools short of military action, the United States stands prepared to defend itself and its allies using the full range of our unmatched military capabilities if need be.
The crucial U.S. security partnership with South Korea is just one aspect of our enduring alliance. We also share deep partnerships on a range of issues, from cultural exchange to cutting-edge advances in science and medicine, and the very important issue of trade.
Currently, we are looking at ways of improving our economic relationship. I would like to thank President Moon for instructing his trade negotiators to work closely with us to quickly pursue a much better deal — a deal that, frankly, has been quite unsuccessful and not very good for the United States.
In the more than six decades since we signed our mutual defense treaty, our alliance has grown stronger and deeper. Our two nations symbolize what independent countries can accomplish when they serve the interests of their people, respect the sovereignty of their neighbors, and uphold the rule of law.
Imagine the amazing possibilities for a Korean Peninsula liberated from the threat of nuclear weapons, where all Koreans could enjoy the blessings of liberty and the prosperity that you have achieved right here in South Korea.
I also want to congratulate President Moon and the South Korean people on hosting the Winter Olympics this upcoming February. It will be a truly spectacular event.
Mr. President, I want to thank you and First Lady Kim. And, I mean, it was just so special today. The ceremony was so beautiful. We very much thank you for it.
Together, our two nations will handle threats to peace and security, stand up to those who would threaten our freedom, and boldly seize the incredible opportunities for a better, brighter, and more prosperous tomorrow.
In good times and bad, in moments of great hardship and great success, our two nations can always count on the close bonds and deep friendship we share as free, proud, and independent people.
Mr. President, I look forward to the rest of our visit together, and I send the wonderful citizens of South Korea the best wishes from the people of the United States of America. Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.)
MODERATOR: Thank you very much. We have just heard from President Trump, and now would like to invite the questions from the members of the media corps.
So we would like to now ask the White House correspondents from the U.S. side to ask questions, and President Trump will respond. And then from the Blue House, there will be Q and A.
MS. SANDERS: The first question from the United States will go to Margaret Brennan from CBS.
Q Thank you, sir. Mr. President —
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Which one? (Laughter.)
Q President Trump — I will have questions from both of you gentlemen. But, President Trump, you spoke here in South Korea saying that you do believe that the crisis with North Korea will be worked out. So, specifically, have you seen any success in your diplomatic strategy so far? And do you still believe that direct talks are a waste of time?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, I think you know me well enough to know that I don’t like talking about whether I see success or not in a case such as this. We like to play our cards a little bit close to the vest.
I will say this — that I believe it makes sense for North Korea to do the right thing, not only for North Korea, but for humanity all over the world. So there is a lot of reason, a lot of good reason behind it.
With that, yes, I think we’re making a lot of progress. I think we’re showing great strength. I think they understand we have unparalleled strength. There has never been strength like it.
You know we sent three of the largest aircraft carriers in the world, and they’re right now positioned. We have a nuclear submarine also positioned. We have many things happening that we hope, we hope — in fact, I’ll go a step further, we hope to God we never have to use.
With that being said, I really believe that it makes sense for North Korea to come to the table and to make a deal that’s good for the people of North Korea and the people of the world. I do see certain movement, yes. But let’s see what happens.
Q And on direct talks, sir?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I don’t want to say that.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I just don’t want to say that. You can understand that.
Q I do, sir.
Q And, President Moon, you, in your meeting earlier with President Trump, were spoken about by President Trump when he gestured to the military purchases that your country will be making. And I’m wondering, as you look towards that military build-up, if that signals something — perhaps a change in your view — where you believe a more aggressive stance towards North Korea is more appropriate.
PRESIDENT MOON: (As interpreted.) If I could have the question repeated again. Are you referring to the acquisition of the military assets, or are you referring to the military tensions that could be incurred?
Q President Trump said you would be making military purchases of military equipment. What does that signal (inaudible)?
PRESIDENT MOON: (As interpreted.) I’m not entirely sure which direction your question was, but I can say one thing: When it comes to the state of our reconnaissance assets and the strategy assets — on acquisition of this U.S. strategy assets, we have agreed to begin the consultations for Korea’s acquisition of such assets. And that is to enhance Korea’s defense capabilities and also the combined defense posture of Korea and the United States. I think it is essential.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Margaret, if I may add to that, that the President and I have agreed they’ll be buying a tremendous — which they want, and which they need, and everybody thinks it makes a lot of sense.
We make the greatest military equipment in the world, whether it’s planes, whether it’s missiles. No matter what it is, we have the greatest military equipment in the world. And South Korea will be ordering billions of dollars of that equipment, which, frankly, for them makes a lot of sense. And for us, it means jobs; it means reducing our trade deficit with South Korea.
But they’ll be ordering billions of dollars’ worth of equipment, and we’ve already approved some of those orders. Okay? Thank you.
Q I have a question for President Moon: Between Korea and the United States, I think one of the most important diplomacy challenges will be to work on — resolve the nuclear problem of the DPRK. And you gave a foreign press interview — you talked about bringing balance and diplomacy, and you talked about resolving nuclear problem and the close cooperation between Korea and the United States, and you talked about China’s role.
Are you referring to the balance between the U.S. — balance of Korea between U.S. and China, or are you referring to something else? And you have had a third summit meeting at the summit meeting you just had. You said that you have agreed to bring permanent peace to (inaudible) on the Korean Peninsula. And what kind of role are you expecting the United States and President Trump to play with regards to settling peace on the Korean Peninsula?
PRESIDENT MOON: (As interpreted.) So on bringing balance in our diplomatic approaches, this is not about our stance vis-à-vis the United States and China. We are trying to bring a solution to the DPRK nuclear problem and to bring permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula.
And, moreover, we would like to promote peace, stability and prosperity of the Northeast Asian region. So we would like to expand our diplomatic efforts in this regard. And that should include our efforts for China as well as (inaudible) and Russia and the EU.
I believe that we should diversify efforts — diplomatic efforts — so that we can pursue a more balanced approach. So that was the intention of making such comment.
And to establish permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula and to resolve the nuclear problem, I think there’s role to be played by the United States and China. And when it comes to the United States, a very strong sanctions and pressure is being put by the United States. The U.S. is leading efforts, and I am very sure that substantive results will be realized through such efforts.
And China has also faithfully implemented the U.N. resolution to impose sanctions on DPRK. So we have heightened the pressure and sanctions on DPRK, and I think this will also contribute to resolving the nuclear problem.
And if our international society’s efforts bear fruits and if we can really make a turnaround, then I’m sure that we will be able to bring North Korea to the table of dialogue. And through such dialogue, I am very confident that we can freeze a nuclear program and ultimately dismantle the weapons of the DPRK entirely. And in this, I believe that cooperation from the U.S. and China is essential.
And on establishing a permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula, I don’t think it’s the right timing that we talk about this issue. Now we should focus on bringing an end to the DPRK provocations, and bringing DPRK to the table for dialogue. This is a pending challenge we must address now. So we must focus on sanctions and pressure. And there is a time — the time finally comes that we should certainly make efforts to further consult each other — Korea and the U.S. — for settling peace on the Korean Peninsula.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I want to just say that President Xi — where we will be tomorrow, China — has been very helpful. We’ll find out how helpful soon. But he really has been very, very helpful. So China is out trying very hard to solve the problem with North Korea. We hope that Russia, likewise, will be helpful. We also hope that other countries — and we know for a fact that other countries have already started. And we’ve had great dialogue with many other countries, as you know, and they’re really helping a lot.
So if we get China, if we get Russia — and we have some other countries, but we want to get most of them — we think that things will happen, and they could happen very quickly.
This is a problem, by the way, that should have been done over the last 25 years, not now. This is not the right time to be doing it, but that’s what I got. That’s what I got. This is a problem that should have been taken care of a long time ago.
MS. SANDERS: Thank you. The United States’ second and final question will go to Ali Vitali from NBC.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. You’ve talked about wanting to put extreme vetting on people trying to come into the United States, but I wonder if you would consider extreme vetting for people trying to buy a gun.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Trying to what?
Q Buy a gun.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, you’re bringing up a situation that probably shouldn’t be discussed too much right now. We could let a little time go by, but it’s okay. If you feel that that’s an appropriate question, even though we’re in the heart of South Korea, I will certainly answer your question.
If you did what you’re suggesting, there would have been no difference three days ago, and you might not have had that very brave person who happened to have a gun or a rifle in his truck go out and shoot him, and hit him and neutralize him. And I can only say this: If he didn’t have a gone, instead of having 26 dead, you would have had hundreds more dead. So that’s the way I feel about it. Not going to help.
Q And are you considering any kind of gun control policy going forward because —
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I mean, you look at the city with the strongest gun laws in our nation, is Chicago, and Chicago is a disaster. It’s a total disaster. Just remember, if this man didn’t have a gun or rifle, you’d be talking about a much worse situation in the great state of Texas. Thank you.
Q (As interpreted.) For President Trump: Today you visited Pyeongtaek military base as you first stop, and we have allocated 9 trillion won for the building of the military base. And there’s been bits of conflict, confrontations with the residents of Pyeongtaek over the construction of the Pyeongtaek base. So, to Koreans, a lot of taxpayers’ money has been put into build the Pyeongtaek base and a lot of sacrifices have been made to build that base. So you visited the Pyeongtaek base today and many people talked about freeriding of Korea against security of the United States. So what are your feelings about such talks as you visited the Pyeongtaek base?
And another question I have is that people have concerns about Korea passing, although a lot of that has gone away. People are still concerned that Korea may be neglected in diplomacy. So what are your views on the Korea passing? Can you just say for sure, for certain, that Korea passing no longer exists for the Korean people?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I’ll start off with your second. South Korea — Republic of Korea, Korea — is very important to me. And there will be no skipping South Korea, I can tell you that right now. Plus, I’ve developed great friendships, not only with the President but with others, and we’re not going to let them down and they’re not going to let us down. Because we’re doing a lot for them, to be honest. We’re doing a lot for them.
As far as the base is concerned, I thought that Humphreys was an incredible military installation. I know what it costs, and it’s a lot of money. We actually spent some of that money, and, as you know, that money was spent, for the most part, to protect South Korea, not to protect the United States. But some of that money was spent by us.
That being said, that was long before my time, and I’m sure I could have built it for a lot less. (Laughter.) That’s what I do. Thank you.
PRESIDENT MOON: (As interpreted.) If you don’t mind, I’d like to make some supplementary remarks.
Today, President Trump visited Pyeongtaek military base, and his visit shows — through his visit, we were able to show that Korea is making significant contribution — huge contributions to the KORUS alliance. I hope that that has been felt by President Trump. And at the expanded summit talks, he has expressed his appreciation for the construction of the splendid base. And at the Pyeongtaek base, with the 8th Army Commander, as well as the USFK Commander, we had a briefing by the commanders and there was a strong emphasis on their part as well.
5:48 P.M. KST
Remarks by President Trump and President Moon of the Republic of Korea at State Dinner | Seoul, Republic of Korea
Seoul, Republic of Korea
8:19 P.M. KST
PRESIDENT MOON: (As interpreted.) Tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of President Trump’s election victory. In Korea, we have a custom of holding a special celebration on one’s first birthday. So after pondering about how to best celebrate the first anniversary of President Trump’s victory, I decided to invite the President to Korea as a state guest and hold a banquet. (Applause.)
Ladies and gentlemen, another big round of applause to congratulate President Trump. (Applause.)
I would like to extend my heartfelt welcome to President and Mrs. Trump, both of whom I highly respect, on their first visit to Korea. This is the first state visit by an American President in 25 years and the first state visit for me and my administration. I am very pleased to get this opportunity to repay so quickly the hospitality I received in Washington, D.C. last June.
Over the months, I have maintained close contact with President Trump. But now, after spending a day with the President and the First Lady within Cheong Wa Dae, I feel a sense of intimacy, as if we were old friends.
Distinguished guests, last September, in his keynote speech to the U.N. General Assembly, President Trump recollected President Truman’s great initiatives for rebuilding the free world in the aftermath of World War II. Thanks to President Truman’s resolute decision, the U.S.-led U.N. forces participated in the war that broke out on the Korean Peninsula.
The ROK-U.S. alliance was born out of the same red blood of patriots spilt by Korean and American soldiers on the battlefield.
Last June, I paid my respects at the Chosin Reservoir Battle memorial in Quantico. I convey my gratitude to the Korean War veterans for their honorable sacrifices, and reflect upon the noble values of the ROK-U.S. alliance that has defended freedom and peace.
Even at this very moment, the peace of my country, which was won with blood, is being threatened once again. But the ROK-U.S. alliance gives us the strength to stop this threat.
Camp Humphreys, where President Trump visited today, is the largest and most advanced U.S. military installation outside of the United States, and it is a symbol of the enduring strength of the ROK-U.S. alliance.
Ladies and gentlemen, war must not break out again on the Korean Peninsula. And in this respect, the United States has provided enormous support. The close coordination between Korea and the United States, and the overwhelming superiority of power that stems from the ROK-U.S. alliance, will eventually make North Korea cease its reckless provocations and make North Korea come out to dialogue for denuclearization.
The ROK-U.S. alliance of tomorrow will grow into a trustworthy pillar that guarantees the lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula and also builds peace and prosperity in all of Northeast Asia.
Ladies and gentlemen, President Trump’s election victory one year ago is already making America great again. Korea faces the task of making this world a better place through cooperation with a great America.
Korea has worked with the United States for peace and reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan. We are also working hand-in-hand with the United States to realize the common values of humanity, such as human rights and the eradication of poverty. I believe that making such joint efforts will make the ROK-U.S. alliance an even greater alliance as President Trump and I have agreed to do last June, and, at the same time, make America even greater.
Thank you. (Applause.)
Now I would like to propose a toast. Please fill your glasses, and may I ask you to raise your glasses.
If you are ready: I give you my word that I will always stand by you on our journey to make the ROK-U.S. alliance an even greater alliance. I congratulate President Trump on the one-year anniversary of his election victory. And I would like to propose a toast to the good health of President and Mrs. Trump.
(A toast is offered.)
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, thank you very much. And this is an exciting time, and we’re going to have an exciting day tomorrow, for many reasons that people will find out, in addition to the fact I look forward to making a — hopefully — very comprehensive speech before you and the leaders of Korea. And that will be really something that I’m representing the American people. The relationship that we have is a fantastic one.
And I have to say, President Moon and First Lady Kim, thank you very much. I greatly appreciate your hosting Melania and myself on our first trip to the very beautiful Republic of Korea.
We were honored to welcome you to the White House this past summer, and now it’s a tremendous honor to visit your magnificent home — and magnificent it is, to see this beautiful land, and to meet the remarkable people of South Korea.
The partnership between our two nations and our two people is deep and enduring. We have been proud to stand by your side for many decades as an unwavering friend and a loyal ally. And you have never had a time where this ally has been more loyal or stood by your side more than right now.
Here in South Korea, the people built a free, sovereign, and democratic republic. Through their resilience and sacrifice and determination, they became the chief architects of the future. Today, the course of this great nation is charted solely by the free people of South Korea.
Mr. President, your remarkable success truly demonstrates what is possible when people are free to follow their dreams, pursue their passions, and hope for a better future for their children.
Tonight, we celebrate South Korea’s success and affirm our close and abiding bonds of friendship.
Together, our nations remind the world of the boundless potential of societies that choose freedom over tyranny, and who set the free. And we will free, and we will sacrifice, and we will hope, and we will make things beautiful, especially the aspiration of your people.
As true partners, we have remained faithful friends through periods of challenge and opportunity. And that’s what we have now, is great opportunity. We will continue to support each other in the years ahead.
In that spirit, I would like to offer a toast to President Moon and First Lady Kim, and to the people of South Korea: May freedom and peace flourish on this peninsula. In our time, and for generations to come, this will be a special evening and a special time. May our bonds of friendship continue to deepen, and may the cherished hopes of our people and the people across the region soon be realized.
Mr. President, may your dreams come true. It’s an honor to be with you. Thank you very much.
(A toast is offered.)
8:35 P.M. KST
Readout of First Lady Melania Trump’s Visit to the Republic of Korea
Upon landing at the Osan Air Base in the Republic of Korea, First Lady Melania Trump flew to Seoul to help kick off the United States Embassy’s “Girls Play 2!” campaign, which is a program that garners support for the 2018 Winter Olympics and encourages girls’ increased participation in sports.
Mrs. Trump then joined her husband for a welcoming ceremony at the Blue House. Following a warm welcome from President Moon and Mrs. Kim, the First Ladies participated in tea and a friendship walk, joining their husbands at a tea house where the couples engaged in friendly conversation. Mrs. Trump and Mrs. Kim then attended the joint press conference held by their husbands. The evening ended with a state banquet at the Blue House.
On her second day in Seoul, Mrs. Trump spoke at the U.S. Embassy meet and greet, thanking employees and their families for their dedicated service to our country. The First Lady then accompanied her husband to his speech at the National Assembly, after which they took part in a wreath laying ceremony at the National Cemetery. The visit concluded with a departure ceremony at Osan Air Base.
“I was honored by the warm welcome we received in the Republic of Korea,” First Lady Melania Trump said. “I very much enjoyed the conversations I had with Mrs. Kim and was impressed by the children I had the opportunity to meet. I look forward to continuing this friendship and extend my continued support to the people of the Republic of Korea.”
Remarks by President Trump to the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea | Seoul, Republic of Korea
National Assembly Building
Seoul, Republic of Korea
11:24 A.M. KST
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Assembly Speaker Chung, distinguished members of this Assembly, ladies and gentlemen: Thank you for the extraordinary privilege to speak in this great chamber and to address your people on behalf of the people of the United States of America.
In our short time in your country, Melania and I have been awed by its ancient and modern wonders, and we are deeply moved by the warmth of your welcome.
Last night, President and Mrs. Moon showed us incredible hospitality in a beautiful reception at the Blue House. We had productive discussions on increasing military cooperation and improving the trade relationship between our nations on the principle of fairness and reciprocity.
Through this entire visit, it has been both our pleasure and our honor to create and celebrate a long friendship between the United States and the Republic of Korea.
This alliance between our nations was forged in the crucible of war, and strengthened by the trials of history. From the Inchon landings to Pork Chop Hill, American and South Korean soldiers have fought together, sacrificed together, and triumphed together.
Almost 67 years ago, in the spring of 1951, they recaptured what remained of this city where we are gathered so proudly today. It was the second time in a year that our combined forces took on steep casualties to retake this capital from the communists.
Over the next weeks and months, the men soldiered through steep mountains and bloody, bloody battles. Driven back at times, they willed their way north to form the line that today divides the oppressed and the free. And there, American and South Korean troops have remained together holding that line for nearly seven decades. (Applause.)
By the time the armistice was signed in 1953, more than 36,000 Americans had died in the Korean War, with more than 100,000 others very badly wounded. They are heroes, and we honor them. We also honor and remember the terrible price the people of your country paid for their freedom. You lost hundreds of thousands of brave soldiers and countless innocent civilians in that gruesome war.
Much of this great city of Seoul was reduced to rubble. Large portions of the country were scarred — severely, severely hurt — by this horrible war. The economy of this nation was demolished.
But as the entire world knows, over the next two generations something miraculous happened on the southern half of this peninsula. Family by family, city by city, the people of South Korea built this country into what is today one of the great nations of the world. And I congratulate you. (Applause.) In less than one lifetime, South Korea climbed from total devastation to among the wealthiest nations on Earth.
Today, your economy is more than 350 times larger than what it was in 1960. Trade has increased 1,900 times. Life expectancy has risen from just 53 years to more than 82 years today.
Like Korea, and since my election exactly one year ago today, I celebrate with you. (Applause.) The United States is going through something of a miracle itself. Our stock market is at an all-time high. Unemployment is at a 17-year low. We are defeating ISIS. We are strengthening our judiciary, including a brilliant Supreme Court justice, and on, and on, and on.
Currently stationed in the vicinity of this peninsula are the three largest aircraft carriers in the world loaded to the maximum with magnificent F-35 and F-18 fighter jets. In addition, we have nuclear submarines appropriately positioned. The United States, under my administration, is completely rebuilding its military and is spending hundreds of billions of dollars to the newest and finest military equipment anywhere in the world being built, right now. I want peace through strength. (Applause.)
We are helping the Republic of Korea far beyond what any other country has ever done. And, in the end, we will work things out far better than anybody understands or can even appreciate. I know that the Republic of Korea, which has become a tremendously successful nation, will be a faithful ally of the United States very long into the future. (Applause.)
What you have built is truly an inspiration. Your economic transformation was linked to a political one. The proud, sovereign, and independent people of your nation demanded the right to govern themselves. You secured free parliamentary elections in 1988, the same year you hosted your first Olympics.
after, you elected your first civilian president in more than three decades. And when the Republic you won faced financial crisis, you lined up by the millions to give your most prized possessions — your wedding rings, heirlooms, and gold “luck keys” — to restore the promise of a better future for your children. (Applause.)
Your wealth is measured in more than money — it is measured in achievements of the mind and achievements of spirit. Over the last several decades, your scientists of engineers — have engineered so many magnificent things. You’ve pushed the boundaries of technology, pioneered miraculous medical treatments, and emerged as leaders in unlocking the mysteries of our universe.
Korean authors penned roughly 40,000 books this year. Korean musicians fill concert halls all around the world. Young Korean students graduate from college at the highest rates of any country. And Korean golfers are some of the best on Earth. (Applause.)
fact — and you know what I’m going to say — the Women’s U.S. Open was held this year at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, and it just happened to be won by a great Korean golfer, Sung-hyun Park. An eighth of the top 10 players were from Korea. And the top four golfers — one, two, three, four — the top four were from Korea. Congratulations. (Applause.) Congratulations. And that’s something. That is really something.
Here in Seoul, architectural wonders like the Sixty-Three Building and the Lotte World Tower — very beautiful — grace the sky and house the workers of many growing industries.
citizens now help to feed the hungry, fight terrorism, and solve problems all over the world. And in a few months, you will host the world and you will do a magnificent job at the 23rd Olympic Winter Games. Good luck. (Applause.)
The Korean miracle extends exactly as far as the armies of free nations advanced in 1953 — 24 miles to the north. There, it stops; it all comes to an end. Dead stop. The flourishing ends, and the prison state of North Korea sadly begins.
Workers in North Korea labor grueling hours in unbearable conditions for almost no pay. Recently, the entire working population was ordered to work for 70 days straight, or else pay for a day of rest.
Families live in homes without plumbing, and fewer than half have electricity. Parents bribe teachers in hopes of saving their sons and daughters from forced labor. More than a million North Koreans died of famine in the 1990s, and more continue to die of hunger today.
Among children under the age of five, nearly 30 percent of afflicted — and are afflicted by stunted growth due to malnutrition. And yet, in 2012 and 2013, the regime spent an estimated $200 million — or almost half the money that it allocated to improve living standards for its people — to instead build even more monuments, towers, and statues to glorify its dictators.
What remains of the meager harvest of the North Korean economy is distributed according to perceived loyalty to a twisted regime. Far from valuing its people as equal citizens, this cruel dictatorship measures them, scores them, and ranks them based on the most arbitrary indications of their allegiance to the state. Those who score the highest in loyalty may live in the capital city. Those who score the lowest starve. A small infraction by one citizen, such as accidently staining a picture of the tyrant printed in a discarded newspaper, can wreck the social credit rank of his entire family for many decades.
An estimated 100,000 North Koreans suffer in gulags, toiling in forced labor, and enduring torture, starvation, rape, and murder on a constant basis.
In one known instance, a 9-year-old boy was imprisoned for 10 years because his grandfather was accused of treason. In another, a student was beaten in school for forgetting a single detail about the life of Kim Jong-un.
Soldiers have kidnapped foreigners and forced them to work as language tutors for North Korean spies.
In the part of Korea that was a stronghold for Christianity before the war, Christians and other people of faith who are found praying or holding a religious book of any kind are now detained, tortured, and in many cases, even executed.
North Korean women are forced to abort babies that are considered ethnically inferior. And if these babies are born, the newborns are murdered.
One woman’s baby born to a Chinese father was taken away in a bucket. The guards said it did not “deserve to live because it was impure.”
So why would China feel an obligation to help North Korea?
The horror of life in North Korea is so complete that citizens pay bribes to government officials to have themselves exported aboard as slaves. They would rather be slaves than live in North Korea.
To attempt to flee is a crime punishable by death. One person who escaped remarked, “When I think about it now, I was not a human being. I was more like an animal. Only after leaving North Korea did I realize what life was supposed to be.”
And so, on this peninsula, we have watched the results of a tragic experiment in a laboratory of history. It is a tale of one people, but two Koreas. One Korea in which the people took control of their lives and their country, and chose a future of freedom and justice, of civilization, and incredible achievement. And another Korea in which leaders imprison their people under the banner of tyranny, fascism, and oppression. The result of this experiment are in, and they are totally conclusive.
When the Korean War began in 1950, the two Koreas were approximately equal in GDP per capita. But by the 1990s, South Korea’s wealth had surpassed North Korea’s by more than 10 times. And today, the South’s economy is over 40 times larger. You started the same a short while ago, and now you’re 40 times larger. You’re doing something right.
Considering the misery wrought by the North Korean dictatorship, it is no surprise that it has been forced to take increasingly desperate measures to prevent its people from understanding this brutal contrast.
Because the regime fears the truth above all else, it forbids virtually all contact with the outside world. Not just my speech today, but even the most commonplace facts of South Korean life are forbidden knowledge to the North Korean people. Western and South Korean music is banned. Possession of foreign media is a crime punishable by death. Citizens spy on fellow citizens, their homes are subject to search at any time, and their every action is subject to surveillance. In place of a vibrant society, the people of North Korea are bombarded by state propaganda practically every waking hour of the day.
North Korea is a country ruled as a cult. At the center of this military cult is a deranged belief in the leader’s destiny to rule as parent protector over a conquered Korean Peninsula and an enslaved Korean people.
The more successful South Korea becomes, the more decisively you discredit the dark fantasy at the heart of the Kim regime.
In this way, the very existence of a thriving South Korean republic threatens the very survival of the North Korean dictatorship.
This city and this assembly are living proof that a free and independent Korea not only can, but does stand strong, sovereign, and proud among the nations of the world. (Applause.)
Here, the strength of the nation does not come from the false glory of a tyrant. It comes from the true and powerful glory of a strong and great people — the people of the Republic of Korea — a Korean people who are free to live, to flourish, to worship, to love, to build, and to grow their own destiny.
In this Republic, the people have done what no dictator ever could — you took, with the help of the United States, responsibility for yourselves and ownership of your future. You had a dream — a Korean dream — and you built that dream into a great reality.
In so doing, you performed the miracle on the Hahn that we see all around us, from the stunning skyline of Seoul to the plains and peaks of this beautiful landscape. You have done it freely, you have done it happily, and you have done it in your own very beautiful way.
This reality — this wonderful place — your success is the greatest cause of anxiety, alarm, and even panic to the North Korean regime. That is why the Kim regime seeks conflict abroad — to distract from total failure that they suffer at home.
Since the so-called armistice, there have been hundreds of North Korean attacks on Americans and South Koreans. These attacks have included the capture and torture of the brave American soldiers of the USS Pueblo, repeated assaults on American helicopters, and the 1969 drowning [downing] of a U.S. surveillance plane that killed 31 American servicemen. The regime has made numerous lethal incursions in South Korea, attempted to assassinate senior leaders, attacked South Korean ships, and tortured Otto Warmbier, ultimately leading to that fine young man’s death.
All the while, the regime has pursued nuclear weapons with the deluded hope that it could blackmail its way to the ultimate objective. And that objective we are not going to let it have. We are not going to let it have. All of Korea is under that spell, divided in half. South Korea will never allow what’s going on in North Korea to continue to happen.
The North Korean regime has pursued its nuclear and ballistic missile programs in defiance of every assurance, agreement, and commitment it has made to the United States and its allies. It’s broken all of those commitments. After promising to freeze its plutonium program in 1994, it repeated [reaped] the benefits of the deal and then — and then immediately continued its illicit nuclear activities.
In 2005, after years of diplomacy, the dictatorship agreed to ultimately abandon its nuclear programs and return to the Treaty on Non-Proliferation. But it never did. And worse, it tested the very weapons it said it was going to give up. In 2009, the United States gave negotiations yet another chance, and offered North Korea the open hand of engagement. The regime responded by sinking a South Korean Navy ship, killing 46 Korean sailors. To this day, it continues to launch missiles over the sovereign territory of Japan and all other neighbors, test nuclear devices, and develop ICBMs to threaten the United States itself. The regime has interpreted America’s past restraint as weakness. This would be a fatal miscalculation. This is a very different administration than the United States has had in the past.
Today, I hope I speak not only for our countries, but for all civilized nations, when I say to the North: Do not underestimate us, and do not try us. We will defend our common security, our shared prosperity, and our sacred liberty.
We did not choose to draw here, on this peninsula — (applause) — this magnificent peninsula — the thin line of civilization that runs around the world and down through time. But here it was drawn, and here it remains to this day. It is the line between peace and war, between decency and depravity, between law and tyranny, between hope and total despair. It is a line that has been drawn many times, in many places, throughout history. To hold that line is a choice free nations have always had to make. We have learned together the high cost of weakness and the high stakes of its defense.
America’s men and women in uniform have given their lives in the fight against Nazism, imperialism, Communism and terrorism.
America does not seek conflict or confrontation, but we will never run from it. History is filled with discarded regimes that have foolishly tested America’s resolve.
Anyone who doubts the strength or determination of the United States should look to our past, and you will doubt it no longer. We will not permit America or our allies to be blackmailed or attacked. We will not allow American cities to be threatened with destruction. We will not be intimidated. And we will not let the worst atrocities in history be repeated here, on this ground, we fought and died so hard to secure. (Applause.)
That is why I have come here, to the heart of a free and flourishing Korea, with a message for the peace-loving nations of the world: The time for excuses is over. Now is the time for strength. If you want peace, you must stand strong at all times. (Applause.) The world cannot tolerate the menace of a rogue regime that threatens with nuclear devastation.
All responsible nations must join forces to isolate the brutal regime of North Korea — to deny it and any form — any form of it. You cannot support, you cannot supply, you cannot accept. We call on every nation, including China and Russia, to fully implement U.N. Security Council resolutions, downgrade diplomatic relations with the regime, and sever all ties of trade and technology.
It is our responsibility and our duty to confront this danger together — because the longer we wait, the greater the danger grows, and the fewer the options become. (Applause.) And to those nations that choose to ignore this threat, or, worse still, to enable it, the weight of this crisis is on your conscience.
I also have come here to this peninsula to deliver a message directly to the leader of the North Korean dictatorship: The weapons you are acquiring are not making you safer. They are putting your regime in grave danger. Every step you take down this dark path increases the peril you face.
North Korea is not the paradise your grandfather envisioned. It is a hell that no person deserves. Yet, despite every crime you have committed against God and man, you are ready to offer, and we will do that — we will offer a path to a much better future. It begins with an end to the aggression of your regime, a stop to your development of ballistic missiles, and complete, verifiable, and total denuclearization. (Applause.)
A sky-top view of this peninsula shows a nation of dazzling light in the South and a mass of impenetrable darkness in the North. We seek a future of light, prosperity, and peace. But we are only prepared to discuss this brighter path for North Korea if its leaders cease their threats and dismantle their nuclear program.
The sinister regime of North Korea is right about only one thing: The Korean people do have a glorious destiny, but they could not be more wrong about what that destiny looks like. The destiny of the Korean people is not to suffer in the bondage of oppression, but to thrive in the glory of freedom. (Applause.)
What South Koreans have achieved on this peninsula is more than a victory for your nation. It is a victory for every nation that believes in the human spirit. And it is our hope that, someday soon, all of your brothers and sisters of the North will be able to enjoy the fullest of life intended by God.
Your republic shows us all of what is possible. In just a few decades, with only the hard work, courage, and talents of your people, you turned this war-torn land into a nation blessed with wealth, rich in culture, and deep in spirit. You built a home where all families can flourish and where all children can shine and be happy.
This Korea stands strong and tall among the great community of independent, confident, and peace-loving nations. We are nations that respect our citizens, cherish our liberty, treasure our sovereignty, and control our own destiny. We affirm the dignity of every person and embrace the full potential of every soul. And we are always prepared to defend the vital interests of our people against the cruel ambition of tyrants.
Together, we dream of a Korea that is free, a peninsula that is safe, and families that are reunited once again. We dream of highways connecting North and South, of cousins embracing cousins, and this nuclear nightmare replaced with the beautiful promise of peace.
Until that day comes, we stand strong and alert. Our eyes are fixed to the North, and our hearts praying for the day when all Koreans can live in freedom. (Applause.)
Thank you. (Applause.) God Bless You. God Bless the Korean people. Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.)
11:59 A.M. KS
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