Thursday, February 19, 2009

Third Stop: South Korea

So late Thursday night Hillary Clinton arrived in Seoul amid all the drama and heightened tensions caused by North Korea's aggressive comments. Here's a video with some footage of Hillary as she arrived in South Korea.

Clinton arrived in a military airport on the outskirts of Seoul where she was greeted by Han Duck-soo, South Korean ambassador to the U.S. While Hillary was on her plane on her way to South Korea from Indonesia, a report came in in which North Korea accused the United States of planning a nuclear attack. She has talks planned on defusing Pyongyang's military threat and she addressed this issue on her flight:

"If there is a succession, even if it is a peaceful succession...that creates more uncertainty and it also may encourage behaviors that are even more provocative as a way to consolidate power within the society,"
On Friday, she engaged in talks with Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Yu Myung Hwan, had a luncheon meeting with President Lee Myung Bak and a meeting with Prime Minister Han Seung Soo. It was here that she announced former Ambassador Steven Bosworth as her special envoy on North Korea. She called Bosworth a "capable and experienced diplomat."
Embedded video from CNN Video

Yu and Clinton discussed a range of issues, including the future of the U.S.-South Korea alliance and the stalled six-way talks on North Korea's nuclear weapons program. The six-way talks, are stalled due to differences over ways to verify Pyongyang's nuclear information. Other issues they discussed issue of South Korea's support for U.S. efforts in Afghanistan, the yet-to-be ratified free trade agreement between the two countries and other global issues like climate change. This is what she said about the six-party talks:

"(We will) try to convince the North Koreans to begin a process within the six-party talks toward the complete and verifiable elimination of nuclear weapons... we deal with the government in place right now, and that government is being asked to re-engage in the six-party talks.

(We) will be discussing what ways we can best approach North Korea so that we present a united front with respect to all of the issues that are of concern but the most immediate issue is to continue the disablement of their nuclear facilities and to get a complete and verifiable agreement as to the end of their nuclear program.

It is clear that (under a U.N. resolution) North Korea is required to suspend all activities related to its ballistic missile program. The North should refrain from violating this resolution and also from any and all activities that could harm the six-party talks and aggravate tensions in the region.

Hillary then visited the South Korea-U.S. military command at Youngsan Garrison. She was guided by Commander of U.S. Forces Korea General Walter Sharp. During her visit she met with top U.S. military commanders."

Also on the agenda is visit a Seoul women's university to attend a women leaders' forum, and a meeting with a number of female lawmakers.

One thing that is certain is that the Secretary was very well received by the people of South Korea. The conservatives of the state love her! A group held signs during a rally welcoming her outside the US embassy in Seoul. I know a little bit about Korea sub-culture so I think she really resonates with older Korean women. It has to be her strong, tough edge combined with grace and elegance that they really admire. As an American it's really great to see people from other countries saluting and holding up signs for our respected leaders... instead of setting them onfire.

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