Obama, South Korea Reaffirm Alliance

Defense Secretary Ash Carter welcomes South Korean President Park Geun-hye with an honor cordon as she arrives at the Pentagon, Oct. 15, 2015. President Barack Obama met with Park in Laos Sept. 6, during an Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit me

By MarEx 2016-09-07 20:38:00

While attending a regional summit meeting in Vientiane, Laos, President Barack Obama and South Korean President Park Geun-hye reaffirmed their countries’ long-standing alliance and condemned North Korea’s nuclear program and missile launches, according to a White House news release.

Obama is attending the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit meeting hosted by Laos as part of his Asian trip, which included a prior stop in China to attend the G-20 summit.

Obama said South Korea is one of America’s oldest and closest allies. That alliance, he said, remains the linchpin “of peace and security, not just on the Korean Peninsula, but across the region.”

North Korea continues its threatening and provocative behavior in the Asia-Pacific region through its missile launches, Obama said. The United States is deploying a missile defense system, the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, as a deterrent.

“I want to reaffirm that our commitment to the defense and security of South Korea, including extended deterrence, is unwavering,” said Obama.

The United States and South Korea are united in condemning North Korea’s continued missile launches, including this week while China was hosting the G20. “These launches are provocative. They’re a violation of North Korea’s obligations internationally,” said Obama.

“So we are going to work diligently together with the most recent U.N. sanctions that are already placing North Korea under the most intense sanctions regime ever,” Obama said. “We’re going to work together to make sure that we’re closing loopholes and making them even more effective. And President Park and I agreed that the entire international community needs to implement these sanctions fully and hold North Korea accountable.”

Obama said the U.S.-South Korean alliance is global as well as regional, noting the U.S. and South Korea “stand together” against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

The U.S. and South Korea both provide humanitarian assistance for the Syrian people and for refugees, Obama said.

Park said the U.S.-South Korea alliance “is playing a pivotal role for the peace and stability of not only the Korean Peninsula, but the entire region.”

South Korea and the U.S. “will respond resolutely to any provocations by North Korea by utilizing all means,” she added.

“Taking into consideration the importance of China’s role in effective implementation of sanctions and the resolution process of the North Korean nuclear issue, our two countries have agreed to continue to communicate with China through various channels,” she said.

Park said she and Obama also “have agreed to not only expand cooperation in new frontiers such as global health, climate change and space, but also expand our roles in areas such as refugees, peacekeeping operations and development cooperation.”

“I find it meaningful that through our discussions today, I was able to confirm yet once again that the foundations of our bilateral relationship are rock-solid,” Park said.