- Ministry News
Foreign Minister's interview with Bloomberg(9.27)
Ahn: I'm here with South Korea's Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha. Minister Kang, thank you so much for coming in this morning. Let me get started with the US-South Korea alliance. We are seeing this impeachment drama play out in Washington, are you concerned at all that this will take the focus away from your alliance with the United States and also other pressing regional issues with North Korea?
FM: I won't come into the domestic political situation here in the United States but I can say for the alliance that it is strong, unwavering and solid as we affirmed in the meeting between my president and president Trump earlier this week in the margins of the UNGA.
Ahn: And of course NK, a key issue between the US and South Korea- any indication at all when will NK again resume negotiations with the US?
FM: We expect that to happen within weeks. I mean, there are indications of their readiness to come back to the discussions have been more and more concrete, and I think the meeting between the two presidents were wonderful opportunity to touch base on where things are, and to exchange ideas on how, when the negotiations do resume, how to take the issue and produce some concrete results on all the areas that were agreed to in Singapore which is NK's denuclearization certainly but also establishing lasting peace on the Korean peninsula and also improving relations between the US and NK.
Ahn: Will the 2 leaders meet again soon, perhaps in NK this time?
FM: That’s a big hypothesis (laugh) but we would want to see real movement on the discussions on the nuclear issue.
Ahn: Of course, we have now seen the right correspondence between Washington and between Pyongyang so what role does Seoul have left to play in here?
FM: Seoul, we are there, we live there, this is... We are the primary partner that would be affected by how the negotiations proceed and the outcome of these negotiations. We are absolutely at one with the US towards our goal of complete denuclearization and strategizing in getting that from NK so we are absolutely confident about the US approach to the negotiations with NK, and you can call us the mediator, facilitator, negotiator, whatever but at the end of the day we are the primary stakeholder on this discussion.
Ahn: You said that you are right there, right, so are you concerned or how concerned is Washington about short-range ballistic missiles from NK?
FM: I think we are all concerned, there have been a series of these short-range missile launches obviously it doesn't help the dialogue momentum and reviving the dialogue momentum, and we make that very clear and that the North Koreans should stop this, the two militaries are in close consultations in identifying exactly the nature of these short-range launches, but we have also been measured in our response so as not to disrupt the dialogue momentum that is picking up again, so we watch every move very, very closely and to read the implications. But again, also based upon very solid combined defense posture and readiness on the part of our militaries.
Ahn: Has your alliance with the US seen any impact from South Korea exiting the intelligence sharing pact with Japan?
FM: The US as expected has expressed its disappointment of our decision but we have explained the compelling nature of our decision which was triggered in fact by Japan's very unexpected and unilateral trade measures and therefore I think we respect the US position on this but I think our position, the decision that we have made, and you are talking about the military intelligence sharing agreement, this requires a great deal of trust between the parties. And if Japan has played with trade restrictions on us based upon the rationale of breached trust and for security concerns, then it doesn't make sense for us to maintain this agreement which requires a higher level of trust.
Ahn: In the past, Washington has played the role of mediator between Japan and South Korea many times. What role is Washington playing now?
FM: Washington, I think, is of course urging the two sides to talk in the first instance but also using opportunities vis-a-vis us, vis-a-vis Japan to make the point that the trilateral cooperation is very necessary and important as we deal with the NK nuclear issue and other security issues and we respect that, we understand that, we are very much part of it and it(US) may not be playing a role visibly but it certainly is doing what it can to keep the trilateral security alliance strong.
Ahn: You've just met your new counterpart in Japan, Foreign Minister Motegi. What have you talked about when it comes to measures to ease tensions, anything concrete?
FM: He is new, I think as the first meetings go, it went well. I think it was cordial, it was forthcoming, but regardless of newness or oldness, the personalities, the issues are there, and we have big disagreements on the issues at hand, basically the trade restriction measures and also the disagreement over our Supreme Court judgment and the forced labor issue, they are there and we need to work through that. But we are both committed, as I have shared with his predecessors, the two ministries talking at every opportunity that presents itself to us to better understand each other and to narrow the gaps so that we may be able to move, find the way forward on the issue of the forced labor but also on the trade restriction measures.
Ahn: Minister Kang, just quickly 10 seconds or so, the weakness and challenges in your ally, in your ties with Japan- will it benefit China?
FM : I think there's lots of analysis you know a minus on this side a plus on the.. I don't think global diplomacy and coordination and cooperation is a zero-sum game so that a loss here is a benefit there. I think in the end we all have to see the shared strategic goal in this region which is, NK's complete denuclearization and lasting peace on the Korean peninsula.
Ahn: Foreign minister Kang Kyung-wha, thank you so much for your time this morning.