President George W. Bush met with Republic of Korea President Lee Myung-bak in Seoul to reaffirm the close and longstanding ties between the two democracies. America's fifty-year partnership with South Korea, said President Bush, is "one of the great success stories of modern times." President Bush noted that "freedom has helped turn a nation mired in poverty and recovering from war into a vibrant democracy and a strong partner."
"Alliances aren't stagnant; they've got to constantly reassess," said President Bush. That reassessment is being made, he said, "in a way that will not only help defend the freedom here on the Korean Peninsula, but will help us meet the challenges of a new century." President Bush recalled U.S. efforts to help South Korea defend itself from Communist aggression in the 1950s and, in the decades that followed, to build a democratic society. "The bedrock of this alliance is our belief in liberty. And there's no place on earth that more clearly demonstrates the contrast between free and open societies, and repressive, closed societies than the Korean Peninsula," he said.
Since 2004, the U.S. military has been realigning its forces stationed in South Korea. It is transferring bases and other facilities to South Korea and is providing the South Korean government eleven billion dollars in security assistance.
South Korea is deploying military medics, engineers and other support to help Iraq, Afghanistan, and Lebanon rebuild from years of conflict and underdevelopment. President Bush expressed America's thanks for that support. "The Korean people have made sacrifices and they've made a difference," he said.
President Bush and President Lee highlighted recent progress in convincing North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program through the Six-Party Talks. President Bush also pressed the need for the North Korean regime to agree on a verification plan for its nuclear weapons program or face continued international isolation. "We're in the process now of making sure the North Korean government understands they have many more obligations under the Six-Party Talks, and that we will deal with the North Koreans based upon the principle of action for action," he said. North Korea, said President Bush, has "a lot to do."