Secretary of State Colin Powell
South Korean Foreign Minister Han Song-su
Washington, D.C.
September 18, 2001
11:35 A.M. EDT

SECRETARY POWELL: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. It has been a great pleasure to receive my friend and colleague, the Foreign Minister of Korea, Foreign Minister Han, who is also serving as President of the United Nations General Assembly. We had a good exchange of views, as we always do.

I expressed my thanks to the Minister for the strong expression of support we have received from President Kim Dae-jung and the Korean people as a result of the tragic events of last week, last Tuesday. I also extended my condolences and an expression of sadness to the Korean lives that were lost in the World Trade Center. Some 62 nations are now identified as having lost citizens in the tragic terrorist act of last Tuesday.

The Foreign Minister and I also had a good chance to discuss the recent discussions that his government has had with the North Korean authorities at their fifth ministerial meeting, and I reinforced to the Minister that we are prepared to engage with the North Koreans again at any time and place that they wish to engage without any preconditions and with both sides bringing whatever agenda items to the table they wish to.

We remain strong supporters of the sunshine policy and stand alongside our Korean friends with respect to dialogue with the North.

I might also note that in the course of the morning, I have spoken to Prime Minister Sharon and to Chairman Arafat and to Foreign Minister Peres over the developments in the Middle East over the last 12 hours. Chairman Arafat has issued some strong, positive statements with respect to the situation in the region and the efforts he will be making to reduce, eliminate the violence, and I am pleased that Foreign Minister Peres and Prime Minister Sharon affirmed to me that they would be doing everything on their side to disengage from the opportunities for conflict with the Palestinians in specific towns and cities so as to have sort of a separation that might encourage a state of nonviolence.

And so this is an encouraging development. I hope both sides can take advantage of this encouraging development and it will lead to additional meetings. We have also encouraged commanders on both sides to talk to one another and we are looking at the beginning of Security Committee dialogue once again.

So we have some promise this morning, and let's hope that we can see some developments that will continue this sense of promise that is with us this morning.

Now I would like to present my colleague, Foreign Minister Han.

FOREIGN MINISTER HAN: Good morning. First of all, I pray for the victims of the terrorist act last week, and also wish to express my condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims. We strongly condemn the heinous act of terrorism, and we know that the United States has a great tradition of rallying round the flag in times of crisis.

We, the Koreans, are with you in this hour of national distress and anguish, and we express our strong solidarity with the people and the government of the United States of America.

As a strong ally, and in the spirit of the Korea-US Mutual Defense Treaty, Korea will fully cooperate with the United States and will take part in the international coalition in order to support the United States in eradicating the crimes of terrorism.

Secretary Powell and I had a very good meeting this morning. I briefed him on the result of the recent South-North ministerial talk. As always, we have had a very productive meeting.

Thank you.

SECRETARY POWELL: We have time for perhaps one or two questions.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, is anything new from Afghanistan regarding the Pakistani initiative?

SECRETARY POWELL: No. I know that discussions are continuing. As you also noted from press reporting, the Taliban has convened a gathering of clerics to review the situation. But I don't have anything beyond that to report at this time.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, do you hope that Japan will play a more active role for this coalition than it did during the Gulf War?

SECRETARY POWELL: The Japanese Government has been very forthcoming, and we have been appreciative of their words of support. I have been in touch with Foreign Minister Tanaka and received her words of support as well.

We have not asked for anything specifically from the Japanese Government, but as was the case some years ago in the Gulf War, I'm sure they will want to be supportive, consistent with their capability and ability to be supportive.

QUESTION: Secretary Han, the South Korean President Kim Dae-jung -- the South Korean President Kim Dae-jung support the United States. Can you tell us in more detail about the content of -- that President Kim Dae-jung, his support to the United States?

FOREIGN MINISTER HAN: Well, the main message was that, as I said, Korea will fully cooperate with the United States, and we will be very pleased to take part in the international coalition in order to support the United States in eradicating the acts of terrorism in the future.