By Jueseppi B.
Remarks by President Obama, President Park of the Republic of Korea, and Prime Minister Abe of Japan
U.S. Ambassador’s Residence
The Hague, The Netherlands
6:38 P.M. CET
THE PRESIDENT: I want to thank President Park and Prime Minister Abe for being here today. I have worked closely with both the President and the Prime Minister, but this is the first time the three of us have had an opportunity to meet together and discuss some of the serious challenges that we all face.
Obviously Japan and the Republic of Korea are two of our closest allies in the world and our two most significant and powerful allies in the Asia Pacific region. The ties between our peoples run deep. We do an extraordinary amount of trade together. Our alliances with South Korea and Japan uphold regional peace and security. So our meeting today is a reflection of the United States’ critical role in the Asia Pacific region, but that role depends on the strength of our alliances.
One of the things that brings us together today is our shared concern about North Korea and its nuclear weapons program. Over the last five years, close coordination between our three countries has succeeded in changing the game with North Korea, and our trilateral cooperation has sent a strong signal to Pyongyang that its provocations and threats will be met with a unified response and that the U.S. commitment to the security of both Japan and the Republic of Korea is unwavering, and that a nuclear North Korea is unacceptable.
So I very much look forward to discussing some of the specific steps that we can take to deepen that coordination in terms of both diplomacy and military cooperation. And that includes joint exercises and on missile defense.
So, again, I want to thank President Park and Prime Minister Abe for being here after a long summit. I appreciate their delegations being here as well. I think it’s very important for our three nations to display this kind of unity and shared determination. It’s an important message to our citizens; it’s an important message to the Asia Pacific region. And this also gives me an opportunity to lay the groundwork for even more productive meetings when I visit both the Republic of Korea and Japan in April.
So, thank you again, Madam Prime Minister — Madam President and Mr. Prime Minister. Thank you very much.
PRESIDENT PARK: (As interpreted.) Given the increasingly uncertain developments in North Korea, the critical need for closer coordination among the three countries with regard to North Korea, the North Korean nuclear issue, the chance to engage in an exchange of views with President Obama and Prime Minister Abe is very significant. The North Korean nuclear issue poses a major threat to peace and stability in the region, and it is vital that the international community, including Korea, the U.S. and Japan, fashion a united response.
The fact that the leaders of the three countries have gathered together and they’re discussing the issue of the North Korean nuclear weapons issue is in and of itself very significant. Should North Korea embark on the path to denuclearization on the basis of sincerity, then there will be a way forward to address the difficulties confronting the North Korean people.
The United States has worked very hard to make today’s meeting happen. I sincerely hope that this meeting will offer a chance for us to reaffirm our trilateral coordination and strengthen cooperation on the nuclear front.
PRIME MINISTER ABE: (As interpreted.) I am so delighted that we are able to hold the Japan-U.S.-Republic of Korea trilateral summit today. I wish to express my heartfelt gratitude to President Obama for hosting this summit. And I am so very happy to be able to see President Park Geun-Hye.
It is highly meaningful and also timely that the leaders of the three countries sharing basic values and strategic interests are gathering together to have extensive discussions of security. Particularly, it is extremely important to be able to confirm close cooperation amongst Japan, the United States and the Republic of Korea on the issue of North Korea. And the three countries would like to cooperate so that North Korea will be able to take a positive stance with regard to nuclear and missile issues and also humanitarian issues, such as the separated families of the Republic of Korea.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you very much, everybody.
6:44 P.M. CET
Obama brings leaders of Japan, SKorea together
BY JIM KUHNHENN, ASSOCIATED PRESS
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — President Barack Obama scored a small but significant diplomatic coup Tuesday by bringing together the leaders of key Asian allies Japan and South Korea for their first face-to-face meeting since they both took office more than a year ago.
Most Japanese leaders meet their South Korean counterparts within the first year in office. The failure of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Park Geun-hye to sit down with each other within that period of time has been a source of deep concern for the United States.
Knowing that all three would be in the Netherlands to attend the third installment of Obama’s nuclear security summit, the White House arranged a meeting among the leaders. Obama played middle man, with Park seated to his right and Abe to his left.
Addressing the media before the meeting, the leaders focused on the security threat posed by North Korea. But it is also no secret that diplomatic ties between Asia’s two wealthiest democracies have been severely strained due to South Korea’s lingering resentment over Japanese misconduct during World War II. That includes Japan’s wartime system in which thousands of Korean and other women were forced to provide sex in military brothels, and suspicions of Abe’s nationalist and revisionist tendencies.
Tensions between the countries worsened after Abe in December visited a major shrine honoring Japanese war dead.
Obama said the leaders were united by “our shared concern about North Korea and its nuclear weapons program.”
“Close coordination between our three countries has succeeded in changing the game with North Korea, and our trilateral cooperation has sent a strong signal to Pyongyang that its provocations and threats will be met with a unified response and that the U.S. commitment to the security of both Japan and the Republic of Korea is unwavering, and that a nuclear North Korea is unacceptable,” Obama said.
A senior member of Obama’s administration said afterward that the issue of strained relations between Japan and South Korea did not come up during the meeting. The focus was on North Korea, and some regional security issues also were discussed, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the president’s private meeting.
Since pulling out of six-party talks aimed at ending its nuclear program in exchange for financial assistance in 2009, North Korea has conducted a long-range rocket test, its second nuclear test and, most recently, multiple launches of short-range rockets.
A North Korean diplomat Monday criticized the U.S. for conducting military exercises near its borders and accused the U.S. of undermining prospects for undermining the prospect of improved relations with South Korea.
Park said North Korea should change its behavior.
“Should North Korea embark on a path toward denuclearization on the basis of sincerity, then there will be a way forward to address the difficulties confronting the North Korean people,” she said.
Abe told reporters earlier Tuesday that he was looking to a “future-oriented relationship” with South Korea. At the appearance with Obama, the Japanese leader said he was “so very happy to be able to see” Park.
Abe noted that the three countries share “basic values and strategic interests” and should cooperate on security issues as well, particularly relating to North Korea.
Obama said the meeting gave him an opportunity to lay the groundwork for his April visit to Japan and South Korea.
Associated Press reporter Toby Sterling contributed to this report.
8:35 PM: Departed The Netherlands, Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, en route Brussels, Belgium.
9:15 PM: Arrived Brussels, Belgium. President Obama is welcomed by Belgium’s King Philippe (C) and Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo (L) upon his arrival at Brussels Airport
- In the morning, President Obama participates in a wreath laying and tour of Flanders Field Cemetery with His Majesty King Philippe and Prime Minister Di Rupo of Belgium
- President Obama participates in a EU-U.S. working lunch
- In the afternoon, President Obama participates in a press conference with President Herman Von Rompuy, President of the European Council, and President Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission
- President Obama meets with employees and families of the U.S. Tri-Mission to Belgium, the EU, and NATO
- The President participates in a meeting with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen
- President Obama delivers a speech at the Centre for Fine Arts (BOZAR)
- President Obama travels to Rome, Italy and takes part in an arrival ceremony
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