Bush: U.S. Committed to Security of Korean Peninsula

By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 15, 2006 – The U.S. is committed to peace and security on the Korean peninsula, and decisions about placement and size of U.S. forces there will be made in consultation with the South Korean government, President Bush said here yesterday.

The issue of operational control of U.S. forces in Korea should not be a political matter, and the Defense Department will consult closely with the South Korean government to ensure the appropriate transfer of control happens at the right time, Bush said after meeting with South Korean president Roh Moo-Hyun at the White House.

“The relationship between the United States and South Korea is a strong and vital relationship,” Bush said. “Our alliance is important to security and peace in the Far East.”

Roh thanked Bush for his commitment to Korea and reiterated Korea’s support for the war on terror. “We stand with you, President Bush, and the people of America in your fight against terror,” he said through a translator.

Bush and Roh also discussed the need for cooperation between the U.S. and South Korea in the resumption of six-party talks on the North Korean nuclear issue. Both leaders said their countries would consult closely on what approach to use to resume the talks.

The refusal of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il to participate in six-party talks has strengthened the alliance of the free nations that are determined to resolve the nuclear issue peacefully, Bush said. The message these nations want to send to North Korea is that there is a better future for its people if they abandon their nuclear weapons program, he said.

“Stability in the region is in (Kim Jong-il’s) interests, the ultimate interests for the people of North Korea to be able to benefit and for families to be able to have food on the table,” he said.

American Forces Press Service  (Posted 9/18/06)