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The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

Joint Fact Sheet: The United States-Republic of Korea Alliance: Shared Values, New Frontiers

On the occasion of the second visit of President Park to the United States, the partnership between the United States and the Republic of Korea (ROK) has reached new levels of achievement.  Our strong Alliance is a testament to our dedication and serves as the linchpin of peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and across the Asia-Pacific region.  Washington and Seoul are working together to manage a range of complex issues on the Peninsula, in the region, and around the world.  Over the past year we have deterred and defended against the North Korean threat, rallied the international community to condemn North Korean human rights violations, negotiated a state-of-the-art civil nuclear agreement, delivered humanitarian assistance to those in dire need, conducted anti-piracy maritime operations, and fought against the threat of Ebola and the menace of ISIL.  We have worked to enhance economic ties and implement our bilateral U.S-ROK Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA).  Taken together, it is clear why the U.S.-ROK relationship enjoys deep and broad support among both the American and Korean people.  Our partnership, which is based on mutual respect and common values of freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law, has never been stronger.

Building on this firm foundation, the United States and the ROK advanced our partnership into New Frontiers of Cooperation – issues of increasing importance in the 21st century – such as cyber, space, climate change, and global health.  As the U.S.-ROK relationship continues to evolve,  we are advancing the U.S.-ROK Alliance in important new directions, taking advantage of new opportunities to demonstrate our nations are working together to make the world safer, healthier, and more prosperous.

Strengthening the Alliance

Defending the Peninsula 

The United States and the ROK continue to modernize the Alliance by ensuring we field the best combined capabilities, collaborate on innovative, combined, and effective operational plans, and train and equip our personnel to the highest levels of combined readiness.  As we mark the 65th anniversary of the Korean War, the U.S. commitment to the defense of the ROK remains unwavering.  Regular channels of dialogue such as the foreign and defense ministers’ “2+2” meetings, the Security Consultative Meeting, and the Military Committee Meeting have been instrumental in strengthening and deepening our global strategic alliance.  The October 23, 2014 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the conditions-based transition of wartime operational control (OPCON) over Alliance forces from the United States to the ROK reaffirms the U.S. security commitment while laying a pathway for the ROK to assume greater responsibilities in the defense of the Peninsula. 

We affirm our mutual commitment to the fundamental mission of the Alliance to defend the ROK through a robust combined defense posture, as well as to the enhancement of mutual security based on the U.S.-ROK Mutual Defense Treaty.  In order to strengthen the combined defense posture, the ROK is in the process of securing major capabilities necessary to develop its own Kill-Chain and Korean Air Missile Defense (KAMD) systems, which will be interoperable with Alliance systems.  The Alliance is further strengthened by enhanced cooperation on defense capabilities based upon respective independent investments and combined efforts to improve defense technology security.

As referenced in our Joint Statement on North Korea, our Alliance remains firmly and fully committed to countering the evolving threat to peace and security posed by North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.  Our common goal, shared by the international community, remains the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of North Korea in a peaceful manner. 

Modernizing our Civil Nuclear Cooperation

The safe and secure use of nuclear power plays a major role in our two countries’ energy security and as a low-carbon energy source to reduce emissions from the global power sector as we address climate change.  Our shared commitment to nonproliferation remains the cornerstone of the U.S.-ROK civil nuclear partnership.  The U.S.-ROK Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement (“123” Agreement), signed June 15, illustrates our shared commitment to achieve common goals for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.  In this regard, our two countries have begun planning to establish, upon entry into force of this Agreement, a strategic and future-oriented High-Level Bilateral Commission to cooperate on shared objectives such as spent fuel management, assured fuel supply, promotion of cooperation between our nuclear industries, and nuclear security.

Deepening our Trade and Economic Relationship

The depth and breadth of the U.S.-ROK bilateral trade and investment relationship is reflected in the fact the ROK is now the United States’ sixth largest trading partner and the United States is the ROK’s second largest trading partner.  Before 2012, when the KORUS FTA entered into force, ROK direct investment in the United States was less than $20 billion.  This number nearly doubled to $36 billion in 2014, supporting more than 38,000 jobs and making the ROK the 14th largest investor in the United States.  In the same time frame, U.S. investment in the ROK increased by 25 percent from $28 billion to $35 billion. The United States and the ROK share a common approach on many trade and investment issues, and a mutual interest in ensuring that trade agreements generate the anticipated benefits for our respective peoples through full implementation.

The United States and the ROK intend to strengthen their cooperation, based on the G-20 commitments, on policies that promote strong, sustainable, and balanced growth. We also intend to promote mutual understanding of respective macroeconomic situations and policies, including fiscal, monetary and foreign exchange policies, through enhanced dialogue.

The recent and successful conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations highlights the value of enhancing economic partnerships in the Asia-Pacific region.  The United States reaffirms that it welcomes the ROK’s interest in TPP.  Under the KORUS FTA, the ROK has already adopted many high standard provisions.  The United States and the ROK have held constructive consultations on TPP and specific issues of concern, and look forward to deepening these consultations.

The Commercial Dialogue between the U.S. Department of Commerce and the ROK Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy (MOTIE) highlights our two countries’ commitments to collaborate on topics such as entrepreneurship, business facilitation, foreign direct investment, and other commercial issues of mutual benefit.  In this regard, both sides held the 2nd U.S.-ROK Commercial Dialogue on October 14.  In recognition of President Park's commitment to the “creative economy,” the United States and the ROK are working to expand creative economy partnerships and enhance relationships between U.S. and Korean innovators through the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE) initiative.  The two sides also intend to reconvene the “Senior Economic Dialogue” between the U.S. Department of State and the ROK Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2015, to enhance our engagement on important bilateral, regional, and global economic issues that have foreign policy implications.

Building Strong Regional Relations

The United States and the ROK share a commitment to promoting strong, constructive regional relations.  We are committed to enhancing U.S.-ROK-Japan trilateral cooperation, and are working to sustain the momentum from the recent Foreign Minister-level U.S.-ROK-Japan trilateral meeting on the margins of the 70th United Nations General Assembly including through trilateral meetings at various levels.  The United States, ROK, and Japan signed on December 29, 2014 a trilateral information sharing arrangement, increasing our capabilities to effectively counter North Korean nuclear and missile threats, and held a trilateral meeting at the defense minister-level on the margins of the Shangri-la Dialogue.  The United States welcomes the ROK’s efforts to enhance ROK-Japan-China trilateral cooperation, including the upcoming Summit meeting in Seoul.

The United States has also welcomed President Park’s Northeast Asia Peace and Cooperation Initiative (NAPCI).  Recognizing the contribution such a dialogue can make to building trust in the region and addressing diverse regional challenges, the United States has designated Ambassador Sung Kim as the U.S. government’s senior focal point for NAPCI cooperation.  The United States looks forward to participating in the second high-level NAPCI meeting to be held on October 28, 2015 in Seoul.

Expanding our Global Partnership

Meeting Global Security Challenges

Together the United States and the ROK strongly support the territorial integrity of Ukraine and the full and swift implementation of the Minsk agreements.  The United States and the ROK are committed to supporting the UN’s Humanitarian Response Plan for Ukraine, which targets millions of Ukraine’s most vulnerable citizens.

The two sides are committed partners on a broad spectrum of nonproliferation objectives.  We firmly support the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.  The United States welcomes that the ROK will serve as the Chair of the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the Missile Technology Control Regime in the 2016-17 term. The ROK values the U.S. leadership in the Nuclear Security Summit and looks forward to a successful 2016 Summit in Washington, DC.  The United States also welcomes the ROK’s decision to serve as chair of the 2016 IAEA International Nuclear Security Conference.  While continuing our regular high-level Disarmament and Nonproliferation Consultation, the United States and the ROK inaugurated the U.S.-ROK Counterproliferation Dialogue in January 2015.

The United States and the ROK condemn ISIL’s violent extremism and the grave human sufferings it has caused in both Iraq and Syria, and our two countries have joined as partners in the multinational Global Coalition to Counter ISIL.  In a further response, the ROK has joined the international community in providing humanitarian assistance to the affected countries in the region and committed to work with the Coalition’s Stabilization Support Working Group.  The United States and the ROK were among the first nations to contribute funding to the UN Development Program’s Funding Facility for Immediate Stabilization.  The ROK is also working with the United States to implement the Follow-On Action Agenda from the White House Summit to Counter Violent Extremism.  The United States and the ROK have also been strong partners in Afghanistan, where our two countries participated in the International Security Assistance Force efforts.

Reaffirming our Commitment to Promoting Sustainable Development and to Responding to Global Humanitarian Needs

The United States and the ROK reaffirm our joint efforts to promote work on the eradication of poverty, advancing sustainable development, and humanitarian assistance.  As part of our commitments, we are closely cooperating toward implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by world leaders at the U.N. Summit to adopt the post-2015 Development Agenda on September 25, 2015.  The United States welcomed President Park’s September 26 announcement at the UN Summit regarding the ROK’s Better Life for Girls initiative that will promote girls’ empowerment in education, health, and professionalism in 15 developing countries over five years.  The United States and the ROK intend to promote collaboration between the ROK’s Better Life for Girls initiative and the U.S. Let Girls Learn initiative.

The Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) signed an MOU in June to build a partnership in global poverty reduction and sustainable development in Southeast Asia that focuses on science, technology, innovation, and partnership (STIP).  The ROK intends to provide financial support to the Saving Lives at Birth Challenge, a USAID Grand Challenge focused on pregnant women and newborns in low resource settings.  Both countries are continuing to promote cooperation between KOICA’s Creative Technology Solutions program and USAID’s Global Development Lab.  KOICA and USAID are partnering to digitize Ghana’s entire district health information management system in partnership with Samsung.

Exploring New Frontiers of Cooperation

Countering Biological Threats and Advancing the Global Health Security Agenda

The United States and the ROK are advancing the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA), which seeks to accelerate progress toward a world safe and secure from biological threats in support of the International Health Regulations (IHR).  The United States welcomes the ROK’s greater leadership role in the GHSA by hosting the September 2015 GHSA High Level Meeting in Seoul and deciding to chair the GHSA Steering Group in 2017.  The United States and the ROK have committed to partnering with at least 30 and 13 countries respectively over five years to achieve all GHSA targets.  Both countries made strong financial and personnel contributions to end the Ebola epidemic in West Africa and remain committed to achieving zero Ebola cases, health systems recovery, and the achievement of the GHSA targets and full IHR implementation in West Africa.  

The United States and the ROK emphasize a multi-sectoral, whole-of-society approach to global health security and re-commit to the Able Response whole-of-government exercise to prevent, detect, and respond to biological threats, whether naturally occurring, accidental, or intentional.  We were pleased GHSA countries were able to observe our 2015 Able Response exercise in September.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the ROK Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) also continue to work cooperatively to improve the health of Korean and U.S. citizens.  During the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) outbreak, the United States coordinated with the World Health Organization to provide policy and technical expertise to strengthen the ROK’s response capacity. The United States continues to support the ROK’s efforts to improve its public health system to respond more effectively to potential future outbreaks.

Noting the MOU between HHS and MOHW amended and extended on June 22, 2015, the U.S. National Institutes of Health and Korea National Institute of Health signed a Letter of Intent on October 16, 2015 to enhance biomedical research collaboration, personnel exchange, and training cooperation in fields of mutual interest including precision medicine and emerging infectious diseases such as MERS-CoV.

Combatting Climate Change

The United States and the ROK express their determination to take ambitious action to address climate change – one of the greatest threats to global security and economic development.  We intend to work together and with others to achieve an ambitious, long-term climate change agreement at the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris (COP-21).  The United States and the ROK also intend to work together to mobilize climate finance, including through the Green Climate Fund.

The United States and the ROK recognize the importance of significant increases in basic research and development for clean energy in the coming years and also reaffirm cooperation on accelerating the deployment of clean energy technologies through the Clean Energy Ministerial and its initiatives, such as the International Smart Grid Action Network, the Super-efficient Equipment and Appliance Deployment initiative, and the Energy Management Working Group.   The U.S. Department of Energy and the ROK MOTIE continue cooperation on smart grid and hydrogen and fuel cell technologies and on the implementation of new projects for micro-grid analysis and design and energy storage systems.

Recognizing the significant contribution of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) to global warming, the United States and the ROK are committed to the phase down of the production and consumption of HFCs and intend to work together to achieve an amendment to the Montreal Protocol in the near future, while cooperating towards improving accessibility to affordable HFC alternatives.

The United States and the ROK are committed to facilitating the transition to low-carbon growth and development in other countries.  In line with this commitment, the United States and the ROK plan to work together to achieve an ambitious outcome in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to limit export credit finance for coal-fired power plants in the near future.

Investing in a Sustainable Environment                                                           

Under the auspices of the U.S.-ROK Environmental Cooperation Agreement (ECA) Work Program, our two countries cooperate on issues ranging from marine pollution and ocean acidification to wildlife trafficking and trade in clean technologies.  We look forward to the next round of the Environment Affairs Council under the KORUS FTA and of the Environmental Cooperation Commission (ECC) under the U.S.-ROK ECA this November in Seoul.

The ROK appreciates the United States’ 2015-2017 chairmanship of the Arctic Council, and the United States welcomes the ROK’s interest in Arctic cooperation as an observer in the Arctic Council.  Recognizing the successful outcomes of the Conference on Global Leadership in the Arctic: Cooperation, Innovation, Engagement and Resilience (GLACIER) held in Anchorage, Alaska in August 2015, the United States and the ROK decided to continue dialogue on the Arctic in the first half of 2016 to explore further areas of cooperation.

The United States and ROK are dedicated to working together on sustainable fisheries and to prevent, deter, and eliminate illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing.  The United States and the ROK are working towards ratification of the Port State Measures Agreement – a key instrument in addressing the threat of IUU fishing to sustainable marine fisheries.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the ROK Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries (MOF) have decided to renew a Joint Project Agreement to promote continued collaborative work from 2017-2021 in important new research areas such as understanding ocean acidification, marine debris, and impacts of climate change on fisheries resources.

Increasing Cyber Collaboration

The United States and the ROK remain committed to expanded cooperation on cyber issues with a view to ensuring the continued openness and enhanced security of cyberspace.  We affirm that cyberspace should remain a driving force for freedom, prosperity, and economic growth, and noted a shared commitment to the multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance, and for ensuring the free flow of information.

The United States and the ROK share the view that in cyberspace, just as elsewhere, states have a special responsibility to promote security, stability, and economic ties with other nations.  In support of that objective, we formally endorse the 2015 report of the UN Group of Governmental Experts in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security.  Both governments further affirm that international law is applicable to state conduct in cyberspace and that additional, voluntary norms of state behavior in cyberspace during peacetime also could contribute to international stability.  In particular, both the United States and the ROK affirm that: (1) no country should conduct or knowingly support online activity that intentionally damages critical infrastructure or impairs the use of it to provide services to the public; (2) no country should conduct or knowingly support cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property, trade secrets, or other confidential business information with the intent of providing competitive advantages to its companies or commercial sectors; and (3) every country should cooperate, consistent with its domestic law and international obligations, with requests for assistance from other states in investigating cybercrime or the use of information and communication technologies for terrorist purposes or to mitigate such activity emanating from its territory.  Our affirmation of the applicability of international law and support for these voluntary norms is crucial to increasing transparency and stability among all nations in cyberspace.  Both countries agree to work together on important international security issues related to cyberspace, including further elaborating how international law applies to state behavior in cyberspace and further identifying and promoting additional, voluntary, non-binding norms of responsible state behavior during peacetime.  We are committed to upholding these principles and working together to further identify and promote additional norms to help ensure an environment in which all actors are able to enjoy the benefits of cyberspace.

Recognizing its importance to the overall U.S.-ROK alliance, both countries seek to strengthen cooperation on cybersecurity by sharing lessons learned and best practices in cyber defense. This cooperation includes: (1) enhancing information sharing on cyber threats, particularly to critical infrastructure; (2) strengthening collaboration on investigation on cyber incidents; (3) deepening military-to-military cyber cooperation; and (4) encouraging collaboration on cybersecurity research and development, education and workforce development, and cooperation on technology between cybersecurity industries.

Both countries decided to strengthen existing bilateral cooperation mechanisms, including the U.S.-ROK Cyber Policy Consultations and the Cyber Cooperation Working Group between our militaries.  The United States and the ROK also highly valued the fruitful results of the second U.S.-ROK ICT Policy Forum held in Seoul October 7-8 2015, following the first U.S.-ROK ICT Policy Forum initiated by the agreement at the summit in May 2013 in the United States and held in Washington, D.C. in November 2013.  In addition, The United States and the ROK decided to establish a White House – Blue House cyber coordination channel to further strengthen and complement the deep and broad bilateral cyber cooperation that already exists between our two countries.

Exploring Space Cooperation

Our two countries are working to advance our partnership in civil space cooperation.  The United States and the ROK intend to conclude a Framework Agreement for Cooperation in Aeronautics and the Exploration and Use of Airspace and Outer Space for Civil and Peaceful Purposes at the earliest possible date.  The ROK looks forward to hosting the United States for the second U.S.-ROK Civil Space Dialogue in 2016.

The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the ROK National Institute of Environmental Research are finalizing the Korea-United States Air Quality Field Study (KORUS-AQ) MOU to integrate ground, airborne, and satellite observations with modeling tools in preparation for future geostationary missions by each country.  The Korea Aerospace Research Institute’s Korean Lunar Exploration Program plans to sign an associate membership agreement to participate in the NASA Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI) to provide expertise to enhance solar system science.  In addition, NASA and the Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology are preparing an MOU regarding the ocean field campaign planned in 2016 to expedite the exploitation of Geostationary Ocean Color Imager managed by the ROK MOF.

NOAA is collaborating with the Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA) on geostationary meteorological satellites to maximize utilization of satellite data to improve weather forecasts and warnings for the protection of lives and property.  NOAA and KMA are also exploring expanded collaboration on KMA's potential addition of a low earth orbiting weather satellite to the polar satellite constellation, which would be a significant contribution to the global observing system and enhance global weather prediction models.

Our two countries also have a growing space security relationship, with annual defense consultations and policy dialogues.  We look forward to holding the seventh Space Cooperation Working Group and the second U.S.-ROK Space Policy Dialogue in 2016. 

Expanding Science and Technology Collaboration

The United States and the ROK have a deep and enduring bilateral relationship in science and technology cooperation.  Our two leaders reaffirmed our mutual recognition that science, technology, and innovation hold the key to shared economic prosperity and achieving mutual goals in areas such as space exploration, public health, climate change mitigation, information and communication technology, and global security.  The United States and the ROK have identified priority areas of cooperation including nanotechnology, advanced manufacturing, biotechnology, and information and communications technologies research, and are in productive discussions regarding information exchange on best practices regarding innovation to maximize the application of research and development results in the fields of science and technology.  Our two countries look forward to the next Science and Technology Joint Committee Meeting in Seoul in 2016. 

Broadening Ties Between Our Peoples

The ROK expresses appreciation to the United States for its work to return two royal seals recovered from private holders in the United States as soon as possible.  The U.S. government’s commitment to restoring rightful ownership of these national treasures strengthens collaboration between our two governments as indicated in the MOU between the Korean Cultural Heritage Administration and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on the protection, recovery and restitution of cultural property signed in July 2014

The United States and the ROK recognize the importance of women’s and girls’ ability to participate in the economy as being critical to sustainable and inclusive growth.   As members of the G20, the United States and the ROK have committed to decreasing the gender gap in female labor force participation by 25 percent by the year 2025.  Minister of Gender Equality and Family Kim Hee-Jung hosted Second lady of the United States Dr. Jill Biden in July 2015 to discuss issues related to women’s economic empowerment, combatting gender-based violence, and empowering the next generation of women by investing in adolescent girls.

Deepening our Partnerships in Education

The Fulbright Program in the ROK continues to enjoy great success and includes programs such as the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant program, one of the largest and oldest of its kind in the world.  The new Fulbright American Studies Discovery grants program, created to mark President Park’s visit to the United States, offers rising ROK scholars structured visits to leading American studies programs in the United States in order to strengthen their own American studies programs in the ROK.

The United States and the ROK continue to cooperate on a variety of J-1 Exchange Visitor Programs, including the Working Holiday Program and the Korea WEST (Work, English Study, Travel) Program, which has sent more than 2,300 students to the United States since 2009.  The WEST Program provides an excellent opportunity for ROK university students and recent graduates to visit the United States for up to 18 months to study English language, participate in internships, and travel independently.  Since 2011, a total of 31 North Korean-born students have participated in the program, vastly improving their English language ability, developing career skills at various internships, and making a commitment to work on reunification issues as a major part of their lives.