“The alliance between the United States and the Republic of Korea remains a linchpin of security and prosperity in Northeast Asia,” U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs James Zumwalt recently testified to U.S. Congress. “Our common values of commitment to freedom, democracy, and the rule of law, along with the close ties between our peoples, are the foundation of the increasingly global partnership between our two great nations.”
The long-standing security alliance remains the basis of a truly comprehensive partnership. The international community benefits from the Republic of Korea’s growing global leadership and engagement. The Republic of Korea participates in peace-keeping operations overseas, is a leader in counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden, and provides significant support to the Afghanistan National Security Forces. The Republic of Korea is a committed member of international nonproliferation regimes, including the Proliferation Security Initiative and the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism. The Republic of Korea is on track to fulfill its 2008 pledge to triple its aid budget to $3 billion by 2015.
Through the Strategic Alliance 2015 Plan, the Republic of Korea will assume wartime operational control of Korean forces in December 2015. The repositioning and consolidation of U.S. Forces will increase the readiness and efficiency of U.S. troops while reducing their footprint in Seoul. “Let me turn now to the greatest challenge of our alliance – North Korea,” Deputy Assistant Secretary Zumwalt said. “The United States is fully committed to the defense of the Republic of Korea, and we stand shoulder-to-shoulder in the face of [North Korean] provocations.”
The United States and the Republic of Korea enjoy one of the world’s most vibrant economic relationships. The Republic of Korea is the fourth-largest economy in Asia, the thirteenth-largest in the world, and the seventh-largest trading partner of the United States, with bilateral trade topping over $100 billion in 2011. The rectified Free Trade Agreement immediately eliminated nearly 80 percent of Korean tariffs on U.S. consumer and industrial goods, and is expected to increase exports by billions of dollars annually in both Korea and the United States.
“In the Republic of Korea the United States has a global partner that is embracing the responsibilities of leadership in the 21st century,” Deputy Assistant Secretary Zumwalt said in conclusion. “We will continue to work together so that our citizens – and people around the world – may live in security and prosperity.”