U.S.-Japan security cooperation extends to promoting regional peace and stability, seeking universal adherence to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and addressing the dangers posed by transfers of destabilizing conventional arms and sensitive dual-use goods and technologies. Our continued progress in assisting open trade between our countries and our broad-ranging international cooperation, exemplified by the Common Agenda, provide a sound basis for our relations into the next century.
Tensions on the Korean Peninsula remain the principal threat to peace and stability in East Asia. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has publicly stated a preference for peaceful reunification, but continues to dedicate a large portion of dwindling resources to enhance the combat capability of its huge military forces. Renewed conflict has been prevented since 1953 by a combination of the Armistice Agreement, which brought an end to open hostilities; the United Nations Command, which has visibly represented the will of the UN Security Council to secure peace; and the physical presence of U.S. and ROK troops in the Combined Forces Command, which has demonstrated the alliance’s resolve.
The inauguration of Kim Dae-jung as President of the Republic of Korea on February 25, 1998 marked an important turning point on the Korean Peninsula. It marked the triumph of democracy in South Korea and the first peaceful transition of power from the ruling party to an opposition party. It was also a remarkable triumph for President Kim, who had been denied the Presidency in 1971 by voter intimidation and fraud, kidnapped and almost murdered by government agents, sentenced to death in 1991, imprisoned for six years and in exile or under house arrest for over ten years. President Kim personifies the victory of democracy over dictatorship in South Korea.
President Kim has set a new course toward peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula by opening new channels for dialogue and seeking areas for cooperation between North and South. During their summit meeting in June 1998, President Clinton and President Kim discussed the situation on the Korean Peninsula, reaffirming South Korea’s role as lead interlocutor with the North Koreans and the importance of our strong defense alliance. President Clinton expressed strong support for President Kim’s vision of engagement and efforts toward reconciliation with the North. The United States is working to create conditions of stability by maintaining solidarity with our South Korean ally, emphasizing America’s commitment to shaping a peaceful and prosperous Korean Peninsula and ensuring that an isolated and struggling North Korea does not opt for a military solution to its political and economic problems.
Peaceful resolution of the Korean conflict with a nonnuclear, reunified peninsula will enhance stability in the East Asian region and is clearly in our strategic interest. We are willing to improve bilateral political and economic ties with North Korea—consistent with the objectives of our alliance with the ROK—to draw the North into more normal relations with the region and the rest of the world. Our willingness to improve bilateral relations will continue to be commensurate with the North’s cooperation in efforts to reduce tensions on the peninsula. South Korea has set a shining example for nonproliferation by forswearing nuclear weapons, accepting safeguards, and developing a peaceful nuclear program that brings benefits to the region. We are firm that North Korea must freeze and dismantle its graphite-moderated reactors and related facilities and fully comply with its NPT obligations under the Agreed Framework. We also seek to cease North Korea’s chemical and biological weapon programs and ballistic missile proliferation activities. The United States, too, must fulfill its obligations under the Agreed Framework and the Administration will work with the Congress to ensure the success of our efforts to address the North Korean nuclear threat. The North must also engage in a productive dialogue with South Korea; continue the recently revived United Nations Command-Korean People’s Army General Officer Dialogue talks at Panmunjon; participate constructively in the Four Party Talks among the United States, China, and North and South Korea to reduce tensions and negotiate a peace agreement; and support our efforts to recover the remains of American servicemen missing since the Korean War.
A stable, open, prosperous People’s Republic of China (PRC) that assumes its responsibilities for building a more peaceful world is clearly and profoundly in our interests. The prospects for peace and prosperity in Asia depend heavily on China’s role as a responsible member of the international community. China’s integration into the international system of rules and norms will influence its own political and economic development, as well as its relations with the rest of the world. Our relationship with China will in large measure help to determine whether the 21st century is one of security, peace, and prosperity for the American people. Our success in working with China as a partner in building a stable international order depends on establishing a productive relationship that will build sustained domestic support.
Our policy toward China is both principled and pragmatic: expanding our areas of cooperation while dealing forthrightly with our differences. Seeking to isolate China is clearly unworkable. Even our friends and allies around the world would not support us; we would succeed only in isolating ourselves and our own policy. More importantly, choosing isolation over engagement would not make the world safer. It would make it more dangerous. It would undermine rather than strengthen our efforts to foster stability in Asia and halt the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. It would hinder the cause of democracy and human rights in China, set back worldwide efforts to protect the environment, and cut off one of the world’s most important markets.
President Jiang Zemin’s visit to the United States in October 1997—the first state visit by the President of China to the United States in twelve years—marked significant progress in the development of U.S.-PRC relations. President Clinton’s reciprocal visit to Beijing in June 1998—the first state visit by an American president to China in this decade—further expanded and strengthened our relations. The two summits were important milestones toward building a constructive U.S.-China strategic partnership.
In their 1997 summit, the two Presidents agreed on a number of steps to strengthen cooperation in international affairs: establishing a Washington-Beijing presidential communications link to facilitate direct contact, regular presidential visits to each other’s capitals, and regular exchanges of visits by cabinet and sub-cabinet officials to consult on political, military, security and arms control issues. They agreed to establish a consultation mechanism to strengthen military maritime safety—which will enable their maritime and air forces to avoid accidents, misunderstandings or miscalculations— and to hold discussions on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. In their June 1998 meeting, they agreed to continue their regular summit meetings and to intensify the bilateral dialogue on security issues.