SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you very much and let me welcome you to the plenary session of the second U.S.-Republic of Korea Ministerial 2+2 with the foreign ministers and defense ministers of both of our countries. It's a real pleasure to have you here for this occasion. The relationship between our two countries has never been stronger.
In the three years that we have been working to implement our joint vision for the alliance between our nations, we have reached several milestones. Last October, we hosted President Lee in this room for the first state visit by a Korean president to the United States in over a decade. During that visit, we also celebrated the passage of the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement, which has already begun to spur job creation and greater economic opportunity in both our nations.
At the same time, Korea has taken on a rising global profile. In the past few years, Korea hosted the G-20 showcasing its economic power; the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, which I was very pleased to attend; the Nuclear Security Summit, highlighting its leadership on global security; and now the World Expo in Yeosu, building ties between the Korean people and visitors from around the world.
So it's clear that on many of the pressing issues of the 21st Century, the world is looking to Korea, and Korea has shouldered and welcomed its new and growing responsibilities. We share an unshakable partnership and we continue to seek new opportunities to strengthen our cooperation. We've enjoyed unprecedented coordination on a number of bilateral, regional, and global issues.
And most importantly, we consult closely and regularly on developments in North Korea. We continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with our Republic of Korea allies in the face of threats and provocations. And I look forward to continuing these consultations today.
Finally, I'd like to note that we are not only building our institutional ties through dialogues like this, we are also building connections between our people. This year we inaugurated our diplomatic exchange program between the United States State Department and the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. And we have enjoyed hosting Kim Hye-jin. She's become an invaluable member of our team enhancing our work with her insight and building connections between our offices. We would keep her forever if we could, Minister. And Minister Kim, I hope you will feel similarly when we send our first exchange officer to work with you later this year.
So thanks again to both Foreign Minister Kim and Defense Minister Kim. Thanks to Ambassador Choi for his presence here in Washington and working on our relationship year round. And thanks to my colleagues from the State and Defense Departments. We look forward to a productive discussion. And on that note, let me turn it over to Foreign Minister Kim.
FOREIGN MINISTER KIM: (Via interpreter) Secretary Clinton, Secretary Panetta, about two years ago the ROK and the U.S. held a 2+2 ministerial meeting for the first time. And now that we are holding this meeting the second time, I am very pleased.
Just as Secretary Clinton commented just a while ago, during the past year there have been great changes in the Republic of Korea, as well as the world as a whole, in keeping pace with the changes in the security environment. It is very significant that we are here today to review the changes that we need to continue making based on a very solid trust between our two leaders.
During the past four years we have laid very strong foundations for our alliance. Despite the continuing North Korean threat, the sinking of Cheonan warship, or with the shelling of the Yeonpyeong Islands, or the long-range missile launch, and we have shown an almost perfect cooperation. We've also handled some very complex alliance issues such as the OPCON transition or the base relocation.
And the Free Trade Agreement that entered into effect earlier this year has increased the scope of our alliance into the economic sector. Now we must ensure that we are not complacent with the achievement we've made thus far and try to move out into the world as an alliance under the slogan of a global Korea, that the Republic of Korea will continue to contribute to global issues, and we'll continue to cooperate with the United States in this regard.
Hopefully this meeting will not only strengthen our alliance and send clear message to North Korea, but also try to seek what we can contribute to the region and the world as a whole. Thank you very much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, Minister Kim. Secretary Panetta?
SECRETARY PANETTA: Thank you very much, Secretary Clinton. I would also like to join in welcoming Minister Kim and Defense Minister Kim to this second 2+2 ministers meeting dialogue.
We greatly appreciate the opportunity to assess the ongoing efforts of the alliance between the United States and the Republic of Korea, particularly as we continue to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Korean War.
I want to extend my sincere and solemn appreciation for the shared sacrifice of our two nations' veterans of the Korean War. It's through their sacrifice and it's through their commitment, and it's through their continuing service that our men and women in uniform truly put their lives on the line in order to protect both of our countries. We are privileged to sit here today because of their efforts, and we embrace as always a very strong and enduring friendship.
As we face the many security challenges and opportunities on the horizon on the peninsula regionally and globally, we must forge a common strategic approach and address these issues collectively, rooted in friendship and in mutual interest.
One of the things that we have done at the Defense Department is to enact a new defense strategy that has made clear the importance of rebalancing to the Asia Pacific region. One of the cornerstones to our ability to effectively implement that strategy is the close partnership and relationship that we have with the Republic of Korea. That's why it's so important for us to come together, to meet to discuss our common views on the shared security challenges that we face, and to forge a common strategic approach to those challenges.
Thank you for your friendship and most importantly thank you for this historic alliance.
MODERATOR: (Inaudible) Defense Minister (inaudible).
DEFENSE MINISTER KIM: (Via interpreter) We are holding today here in Washington our second 2+2 ministerial meeting. And this is a very significant event. I want to first thank the U.S. side for hosting such a wonderful event. The current ROK-U.S. relationship, just as our two leaders named it last October, a partnership for peace and prosperity, is developing into a multi-dimension strategic alliance which address not only the security issues of the Korean Peninsula but moves out into the Asia Pacific and into the world. A recent poll show that over 80 percent of the ROK public believe that the alliance is contributing to the security of the ROK peninsula, of the Korean Peninsula, which is contributing also for the peace and stability of the region.
Especially in the defense area, the two countries have managed very stably the situation in the Korean Peninsula following the death of Kim Jong-il through a very close policy and military cooperation, especially the intelligence sharing and the combined crisis management system that we operated before and after North Korean long-range missile launch shows that we are very much prepared to counter North Korean threats. And we are going over -- beyond these cooperations by addressing regional and global cooperation to show that we are indeed becoming multi-dimension strategic alliance.
Through our historic 2+2 meeting today, we want to reconfirm our will and our commitment for the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula as well as this region and the world as a whole, and demonstrate to the world the solidness of our alliance.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Minister.