East Room Washington D.C. May 21 5:55 P.M. EDT
Hello, everyone. Please. Please be seated.
Today, I've been honored to welcome to the White House President Moon. And I got an opportunity to spend some private time with him, as well as with our delegations. This is only the second person — head of state — second head of state to visit the White House since I've been President. And it's been a real joy.
It's a reflection of how much we value the 70-year alliance with the Republic of Korea and how essential we know the relationship is — is to the United States, the future the Indo-Pacific region, and, quite frankly, to the world.
Today has been particularly special because this afternoon, in addition to our bilateral meetings, President Moon participated in a ceremony, right in this room, that — awarding the Medal of Honor to a veteran of the Korean War — a true American hero, Colonel Ralph Puckett, Jr.
And I want to thank you again, Mr. President, for joining us. It was special. I don't know that there's ever been an award of a Medal of Honor with the head of state of the country where the award was won. It meant a great deal to me and to the family and to our country.
And — but today has not only been an affirmation of our shared history of sacrifice that binds the Republic of Korea and North — and the North — excuse me, and the United States together; it's a commitment to expanding cooperation and shaping our shared future in accordance with our democratic values that have made our nations strong and agile and highly competitive in the 21st century economies.
The Republic of Korea and the United States are both nations built on innovation, and we must both meet the challenges facing us today and look to what is possible for tomorrow.
Our partnership is grounded in our ironclad commitment to shared security. Our alliance has long been the linchpin of peace, security, prosperity, and the region growing more prominent and us being together.
I was grateful that our two nations were able to quickly conclude a new cost-sharing agreement for forces in Korea in March which will benefit both our peoples. And I thank, again, the President for that agreement.
Today, we made important progress on a range of issues. We spoke about the shared approach of the Democratic — shared approach to the Democratic People's Republic in Korea and continuing threat of the DPRK's nuclear and missile programs.
My team consulted closely with President Moon's team throughout the process of our DPRK review, and we both are deeply concerned about the situation.
Our two nations also share a willingness to engage diplomatically with the DPRK to take pragmatic steps that will reduce tensions as we move toward our ultimate goal of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
Today, I affirm to President Moon that the United States will proceed in close consultation with the Republic of Korea and our strategy and our approach. And to help drive all these efforts, I'm pleased to announce that Ambassador Sung Kim, a career diplomat and with deep policy expertise, will serve as a U.S. Special Envoy for the DPRK.
Ambassador Kim — you're here somewhere today — stand up, will you? Thank you for being willing to do this. (Applause.) Thank you for taking on this important role. We appreciate it very much.
The U.S.-ROK partnership also extends beyond the goals of the Peninsula. The address — they address issues of regional and global concern through stronger cooperation with partners in the region, including the ASEAN, the Quad, and trilateral cooperation with Japan.
The multilateral cooperation is particularly important to coordinate in the approach to the situation that exists in Burma as we work to pressure the junta to restore democracy for the people of Burma — and to address issues critical to regional stability, such as maintaining freedom of navigation in the South China Sea and preserving peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits.
Today, we also discussed ways that the Republic of Korea and the United States will work together to address the challenges of our time, beginning with our efforts to end the COVID-19 pandemic globally.
We agreed to establish a comprehensive vaccine partnership to expand the manufacture of vaccines that have been approved safe and effective. And we can scale up glo- — and so we can scale up global vaccine — vaccine supplies.
We'll strengthen our ability to fight the pandemic and respond to future biological threats. When it comes to fighting climate change, the Republic of Korea and the United States are committed to making ambitious 2030 targets aligned with the effort to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions no later than 2050.
And we're going to work together both to mobilize climate finance for developing countries and to make sure that international financing is aligned to promote our climate goals.
We also talked about how to harness our nation's technological advantages to ensure the Republic of Korea and the United States are cooperating to shape — to shape emerging technologies around our shared value system.
This includes everything from strengthening our cybersecurity to deepening our cooperation to build out an open secure G5 network — 5G network, I should say. I'm talking about the G5, that's another organization. (Laughter.) I'm thinking organization, Mr. President — to secure the 5G networks.
And I'm particularly gratified that so many leading South Korean companies see the benefits of investing in the United States, including this morning's announcement of more than $25 billion in new investments from Samsung, Hyundai, SK, and LG.
I understand the executives of those companies are here. Would you please stand up? (Applause.) Thank you, thank you, thank you. And I think we'll do great work together.
These new investments are going to create thousands of good-paying jobs and jobs of the future right here in the United States. And they're going to help fortify and secure the supply chains for things like semiconductors and electric batteries.
I know, as I said, that the CEOs made the effort not only to do this, but to be here today. And again, I thank them for being here. I thank you for making the investments in our future and yours.
Finally, I want to note that yesterday I had the honor of signing into law the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act to help Americans of Asian descent from having to live in fear just walking down the streets of the United States. Quite frankly, I've been ashamed — ashamed at the way some Americans have responded.
And there's a long history in this country of contributions of Asian Americans being overlooked, forgotten, and ignored.
And I affirmed to President Moon today what I said yesterday: that we're committing and we're going to stay committed to stopping the hatred based on this bias. I promise you.
Our peoples share a long history. Our soldiers have fought alongside one another. Our scientists work side by side in both our countries. Our students study together, share ideas, and seed new opportunities for future collaboration.
And our people — our people-to-people and cultural connections are only growing. And K-Pop fans are universal. (Laughter.) And I can tell those who laughed know what I'm talking about. (Laughs.) Well, anyway, I'll get back to that later. Anyway. (Laughter.)
A Korean actress took home an Oscar for Supporting Actress this year, following up on the four Oscar wins for the movie "Parasite" last year.
And so, our two countries — our two nations have the tools and the deep connections that we need to make even stronger alliances with stronger cooperation.
And I want to thank you again for the meetings today, Mr. President, particularly our long, private meeting. I appreciated that a great deal.
And I'm looking forward to working closely with you and your team as we expand and strengthen our efforts to shape the future together. And I mean that literally — to shape the future together. So, thank you.
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