Earlier this month U.S. Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel traveled to Seoul, Republic of Korea to meet with Ambassador Mark Lippert and the U.S. Embassy community, and to consult with the government.
Discussions of bilateral issues ranged from security, to strategy, to the economy; but also included people to people ties. High on Assistant Secretary Russel’s agenda was the planning for President Park Geun-hye’s upcoming visit to the United States.
“We are working together to address transnational threats such as Ebola and other pandemics . . . on climate change . . . the environment and clean energy,” Assistant Secretary Russel said. “We’re [also] working together to address the threat and the scourge of ISIL and radical extremism . . . [and] on a regional basis with respect to Northeast Asia.”
The Republic of Korea and the United States face a significant threat from North Korea’s growing ballistic missile program.
“It’s a program that North Korea is pursuing in violation of international law,” Assistant Secretary Russel emphasized. “Our military authorities have a responsibility to consider systems that would protect the Republic of Korea and . . . the United States from that threat. How they do it, when they do it is something that the experts will have to determine, but I think that it is for the Republic of Korea to decide what measures, [and when] it will take in its own alliance defense.”
Concerning the recent knife attack on the Ambassador, Mr. Russel said, “The tremendous warmth and the outpouring of sympathy and support for Ambassador Lippert, for his family, [and] for the U.S. Embassy throughout this affair has given a vivid demonstration of the strength of the U.S.-ROK Alliance and the depth of the friendship between the American and Korean people.”
Secretary Russel expressed his appreciation to the Korean government for the serious way they are addressing the security needs of American citizens, the U.S. Embassy, and the U.S. Ambassador in Seoul.
“We can count on the Korean authorities to continue to ensure that this isolated issue is handled in a way consistent with justice,” Secretary Russel said. “It will leave no negative impact on our very healthy bilateral relations.”