Spokesperson and Deputy Minister for Public Relations Cho Tai-young
Dec. 3, 2013 14:30 KST
Good afternoon. Let me start today’s briefing.
Today, I have four announcements to make.
First, Vice President Joe Biden of the United States will visit the Republic of Korea from December 5 through 7 at the invitation of the ROK government. After arriving in the ROK on December 5, he will pay a courtesy call on and have a luncheon with President Park Geun-hye, deliver a speech on foreign policies at Yonsei University and hold a meeting with Prime Minister Chung Hong-won on December 6. On December 7, the Vice President will lay a wreath at the War Memorial of Korea, offer words of encouragement to the staff of the US Embassy in the ROK as well as the US Forces Korea and visit the inter-Korean demilitarized zone (DMZ) , leaving the country in the evening.
The upcoming visit of Vice President Biden, the first of its kind by a top-level official of the US administration since the launch of the new government in the ROK, is expected to serve as an opportunity to deepen and advance the comprehensive strategic alliance between the ROK and the US; to review the achievements over the past six decades of the alliance; and to prepare for its next six decades.
During his Asian tour, Vice President Biden will spend a longer period of time in the ROK than in any other country. And his speech on foreign affairs to be delivered in Seoul will mark the only one he will give during his Asian tour.
Moving on to the second announcement, on December 2, the ROK and Russia exchanged notes verbale notifying each other of their completion of necessary domestic procedures for bringing into force the bilateral Agreement on the Mutual Abolition of Visa Requirements, which had been signed on November 13. So, the Agreement will enter into force on January 1, 2014.
As you may be aware, the Agreement, when in force, will allow holders of valid ordinary passports or travel certificates of the two countries to stay in each other’s countries for up to 60 days without visa as long as their stays are not for purposes of employment, residence or studies. The Agreement is expected to help promote the convenience of ROK nationals planning to visit Russia as well as boost people-to-people exchanges and enhance friendship and cooperation between the two countries.
Thirdly, the ROK government, in a bid to take part in Panama’s commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the discovery of the Pacific Ocean, will present a real-size replica of Dabotap -- a granite pagoda -- to the country as a token of the ROK-Panama friendship.
The presentation ceremony will take place in Panama City on December 4.
The ceremony will bring together Marta Linares de Martinelli, First Lady and President of the National Committee in charge of organizing the 500th anniversary celebrations, Foreign Minister Fernando Nunez Fabrega and other key government officials of Panama.
The presentation of the Dabotap replica is expected to help heighten the cultural closeness between the two countries.
After the Dabotap presentation ceremony, the ROK government will hold its first-ever high-level policy consultation with Panama in Panama City on December 5.
The ROK and the Panamanian delegations to the meeting will be led by Director-General for Latin American and Caribbean Affairs Jang Myung-soo and Director-General for External Policy Floreal Ricardo Garrido Valdes of the Foreign Ministries of the respective countries. In the forthcoming consultation, the two countries will extensively discuss pending bilateral issues and ways to work more closely together on the international stage.
Lastly, the Korea National Diplomatic Academy (KNDA) will conduct a program called “Introduction of Korea for Foreign Diplomats” on December 4 and 5. This program is designed to help foreign diplomats recently assigned to the ROK better understand its various aspects, including politics, foreign affairs and culture.
So far, 76 diplomats from 47 countries, including Ambassadors from six countries, -- Austria, Bolivia, East Timor, Guatemala, Hungary and Ireland -- have applied to take part in the program.
This program, held on an annual basis since 1999, marks the 14th of its kind this year. The event is expected to play a role in promoting the relationship between the ROK Foreign Ministry and the Diplomatic Corps in Korea.
This is all for my opening statement.
Q: I understand the ROK government-parliament meeting scheduled for today to discuss the issue of Korea Air Defense Identification Zone (KADIZ) has been cancelled. Please tell us the reason for the cancellation.
A: As I have already told you, the government is reviewing the ADIZ issue in a way that will maximize national interests. I understand that relevant matters will be explained to the public through the media when ready.
Q: According to a press report issued just a little ago, the ROK government has already finalized the KADIZ, which covers the same area as its flight information region (FIR). The report also said that the ROK had already consulted with the US, China and Japan in the lead-up to this. To what extent and in what way is the ROK government currently moving forward its consultations with Japan, China and the US with regard to the KADIZ? How and what does the ROK government plan to consult with the three countries after announcing its final decision?
A: Let me tell you that the government is dealing with this ADIZ issue, taking into account the full range of factors.
Q: According to a press report, the Foreign Minister was originally due to attend the government-parliament meeting today as well as the joint meeting of ruling and opposition party chiefs and National Assembly leaders to be hosted by the ruling party tomorrow to discuss the ADIZ issue. Will the Minister attend the meeting tomorrow? Will the meeting indeed take place?
A: I deem it appropriate for you to refer that question to the relevant political party.
Q: I am asking about the Minister’s schedule. Will he attend the meeting tomorrow?
A: I don’t know about that.
Q: With regard to the ADIZ issue, the US and Japan have expressed their intent to jointly respond to it as allies. If the ROK extends the KADIZ, it will overlap with part of that of Japan. Should this indeed happen, how will the ROK and the US coordinate it as allies?
A: You are asking similar questions. Let me reiterate my answer: The government is dealing with this ADIZ issue, taking into account the full range of factors.
Q: According to a Xinhua report, Russia has legislated an act regarding sanctions against North Korea, which has not been formally announced by the Russian government, yet. Please share with us what you know about this. Should Russia have indeed done so, it indicates that the country has followed suit of China to formally join international efforts to sanction North Korea. Please tell us what its implications are.
A: To my knowledge, the ROK Foreign Ministry is currently in the process of verifying the report. I have not heard as to whether we have the result of the verification, though. The ROK government considers it an obvious responsibility for Russia as a UN member state to implement UN Security Council sanctions. And we deem Russia’s move an indication of its willingness to faithfully implement relevant UN Security Council resolutions.
Q: The ROK government appears not to acknowledge China’s ADIZ. Under the circumstances, will the ROK not send to China notifications on flights passing through the zone at issue?
A: I consider it a question that should be answered by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, which handles civil aviation affairs. As far as I know, though, there is this FIR system, under which flight information is notified. I understand that no notifications other than those made under that system will be sent to China.
You asked many questions about the ADIZ issue, to which I answered that the government is dealing with it, taking into account the full range of factors. Let me add one thing.
A number of relevant press reports are being issued. What I can tell you for sure right here is that security-related divisions of the government are conducting detailed analyses on relevant developments and dealing with this issue in close cooperation with one another at all levels.
Q: Could you share with us in what way the ROK government is moving forward its consultations with China among other relevant countries in this regard?
A: I cannot but repeat the same answer over and over. Let me answer that question by reiterating that the government is dealing with it, taking into account the full range of factors.
Q: When will the government wrap up its intra-governmental discussions? When will their result be announced?
A: It is hard for me to answer that question right now.
Q: To my knowledge, relevant officials of the Navy and the Ministry of National Defense visited the Foreign Ministry today. With which Foreign Ministry division did they hold a meeting, and what was discussed there?
A: I have to check that, as I have not heard about it. As I told you a little ago, security-related government divisions are conducting detailed analyses on relevant developments and dealing with this issue in close cooperation with one another at all levels.
Q: I will ask the same question again. Some people point out from the viewpoint ROK nationals that although the Foreign Ministry says that it is dealing fully with the issue, its actions are not tangible. Specifically what agenda items regarding this issue are being discussed on what levels and to what extent? Please answer this question at least to the extent that can help reduce the curiosity of the public.
A: I cannot but repeat my answer today. The ROK government is united as one. Its relevant divisions are dealing with the issue, conducting and sharing their detailed analyses in close cooperation with one another.
In terms of the matters raised today that remain unverified and unanswered, I will check on them and then let you know.
Thank you. I will conclude today’s briefing.
* unofficial translation