THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
(Seoul, Republic of Korea)
For Immediate Release November 21, 1998 7:50 P.M. (L)
REMARKS BY PRESIDENT CLINTON
AND PRESIDENT KIM DAE-JUNG
IN EXCHANGE OF TOASTS
Seoul, Republic of Korea
PRESIDENT KIM: President Clinton and distinguished guests. I wholeheartedly welcome President Clinton on his first visit to the Republic of Korea since my inauguration. I'm deeply gratified, Mr. President, to be able to reciprocate the welcome that you and the American people accorded me in my visit to the United States last June. I am also happy that such an opportunity came at such an early date.
At our summit meeting last June, President Clinton and I agreed to build up a substantial partnership between our two countries based on the common values of democracy and a free market economy. Since then, our two countries have worked for the construction of such a partnership in all areas.
As we concluded today's talks I was firmly convinced that President Clinton's current visit to Korea will be an opportunity to demonstrate to the world that the ROK-U.S. partnership looks toward the 21st century.
Ladies and gentlemen, President Clinton has exercised excellent leadership in showing that the efforts of the United States to take the lead in promoting peace and prosperity of the world will bear fruit. In particular, the U.S. efforts to effectively cope with the new challenges that are occurring in various parts of the world and create a post-Cold War international order and stability are making practical progress. This has been possible because of President Clinton's philosophy and vision for the future peace and welfare of mankind.
President Clinton has brought peace negotiations in Ireland to a successful conclusion and played a decisive role in terminating a tragic situation in Kosovo. He also succeeded in bringing the Middle East peace negotiations to a conclusion. In particular, he made a deep impression on people around the world by demonstrating his dedication in mediating for more than 85 hours over nine days during the last stage of negotiations.
Facing financial crises in many parts of the world, including Asia, President Clinton foresaw the effects of the crisis on the entire world and set an example for the international community to follow in making joint efforts to overcome the situation. Through such roles, President Clinton is making a decisive contribution to forging a safer and more prosperous world by spreading such universal values as freedom, democracy, and human rights.
I am happy that I am able to work along with President Clinton to help strengthen such values, and firmly convinced that history will highly evaluate the dedication we have jointly made for mankind.
Domestically, President Clinton is leading many achievements. He has led the American economy to an unprecedented boom in recent years and accomplished a task of putting national finances in the black. We highly respect such achievements because a thriving U.S. economy brightens the prospects for the world economy.
Taking this opportunity I would like to congratulate President Clinton for a winning support both at home and abroad and I have strong expectations that he will continue to exercise his leadership for the construction of a better America and a better world.
Ladies and gentlemen, President Clinton is also playing a great role for the maintenance of peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. The core of his role is the implementation of engagement policy aimed at helping prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons in this region, including on the Korean Peninsula, through the Geneva agreement, and inducing North Korea to become a responsible member of the international community.
I believe that President Clinton's policy of engaging North Korea was given new vitality with its integration of a new administration in the Republic of Korea. The engagement policy promotes firm security and exchanges, as well as corporation in parallel.
Over the nine months since my inauguration I have patiently and consistently pushed such a policy. The result is gradually emerging now. North Korea is cautiously, but noticeably, taking measures to increase interaction and cooperation between the South and the North. The progress at the four-party meeting, the General's meeting at the Panmunjom, the inclusion of elements of openness in North Korea's new constitution, and the realization of the Mt. Kumgang tour can be said to be the positive results of the engagement policy.
Of course, there is a negative side that includes the penetration into South Korean waters by a North Korean submarine, the test firing of a missile, and the suspicious nuclear site in the Kumchangni district. However, judging by the recent conditions on the Korean Peninsula and the range of choices North Korea has, I believe that seeking dialogue to resolve all pending issues, while implementing the Geneva agreement, is the most realistic approach at this stage. When Korea and the United States cooperate with each other in this direction, based on a firm security alliance, we will be able to persuade North Korea to make a rational choice.
Since President Clinton and I met last June, I have met with leaders of Japan, China, and the APEC member nations. Most of them agreed that firm ROK-U.S. cooperation is a must for security and peace on the Korean Peninsula. At present, Korea is making national efforts for reform to shed anachronistic systems and practices as well as ways of thinking to overcome the economic crisis and build a new development model.
U.S. support and cooperation are vital for us in overcoming the current challenge in obtaining our goal. From this point of view, although President Clinton could not attend the APEC leaders meeting personally, I highly evaluate the practical proposal the United States made at the meeting to help resolve the Asian financial crisis.
In particular, I believe it is very significant that the United States has decided to monitor the flow of hedge funds and support the self-help efforts by each country. Right now Korea and the United States are maintaining better economic and trade relations than any time before. Our efforts for economic reform are brightening the prospects for a drastic expansion of a cooperative bilateral economic and trade relations.
Negotiations on automobiles, which were concluded recently based on mutual understanding and a spirit of compromise, as well as negotiations for an investment treaty between our two countries that are making progress right now are the developments that back up such a prospect. As ROK-U.S. relations develop further, new areas of cooperation at the higher level are opening up.
President Clinton and I are going to push ideas of substantial regional cooperation, human rights, democratization and the environmental improvement. There's no pending issue that Korea and the United States cannot solve. My talks with you, Mr. President, are progressing smoothly toward the point of compromise in all things, as proved at today's summit meeting. Although your visit to Korea at this time is short, I hope that you will have a relaxed time in Korea.
Ladies and gentlemen, please join me now in a toast to a deep friendship between the peoples of the Republic of Korea and the United States, to a firmer partnership in the coming century, to the health of President Clinton, and to everlasting developments in both our countries. Thank you very much.
(A toast is offered.) (Applause.)
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Mr. President, thank you for your kind words and your kind welcome to Korea. I am very conscious that this visit, my third to Korea as President, comes at a pivotal time in the history of this great nation. In that regard, Mr. President, I would like to thank you for giving my fellow Americans and me the opportunity to have dinner tonight with such a broad range of people from every aspect of Korean society, and especially, thank you for having so many young people here, for it is their lives that will be most affected by the decisions we must make.
First, this is a moment of opportunity, on the 50th anniversary of your Republic, to complete what you, Mr. President, have called Korea's second nation building -- securing in freedom the gains of your remarkable postwar transformation. It is also a challenging moment, for the Korean people have suffered from the whims of economic disruption and dislocation that have blown so strongly throughout all Asia. We in the United States have been heartened by the signs that your efforts at reform and recovery are beginning to succeed.
Mr. President, if Korea is on the right path -- and I believe it is -- it is not simply because economists have given good advice and leaders have made wise choices. More fundamentally, it is because a free people have given their leaders a mandate to confront problems with candor and the legitimacy to call for shared sacrifices.
Of course, there are still some who say that democracy is a luxury people can afford only when times are good. But Korea is proving that democracy can provide the necessary support for action when times are difficult.
At least one person in this room has known that truth for a long, long time. You, Mr. President, have committed a lifetime to the idea that liberty and prosperity can go hand in hand. For this, you were once treated as a dangerous criminal. But we all know that Kim Dae-Jung was imprisoned not for crimes against his country, but for his devotion to his country and his determination to put Korea's destiny into the hands of its people.
Now, Mr. President, look how your trust in the people has been rewarded. They have transferred you from a prison cell to the Blue House. Although, if I might say only partly in jest, on the hard days I imagine being in this job can feel like a form of solitary confinement.
But this is a burden you have chosen to bear. What challenges you have embraced: protecting the security of your people while engaging their relatives in the North, restoring Korea's economy to growth while meeting human needs, and always maintaining the spirit of democracy.
Many years ago, President Kim said these words: "There are several paths to the mountaintop. During the course of climbing, the path we have chosen may seem to be the most treacherous, and the others may seem quite easy. There will be constant temptations to change course, but one should not succumb to them. Once on the mountaintop there will be freedom to choose which path to follow on the descent."
All across Asia people once wondered which path Korea would choose. Now, Korea's answer -- your answer, Mr. President -- is helping to define what Asia's path will be in the 21st century. I believe Asia will emerge from this present crisis more prosperous, more stable, more democratic, thanks in no small measure to Korea's example.
Mr. President, we look forward to walking with you into the future, through hard times and good times, as allies, as friends, as pathfinders.
I ask now that all of you join me in a toast of appreciation to President Kim and to the people of Korea, and to the values and the future our nations will share.
(A toast is offered.) (Applause.)
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