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South Korean President Park's Washington Post Interview, May 2013

Interviewee: Park Geun-hye
Published May 7, 2013

Washington Post journalists interviewed South Korean President Park Geun-hye after her meeting with President Obama on May 7, 2013.


How dangerous are the tensions among Japan, China and other countries in the region, and what more could the United States do?

This could be referred to as the Asian paradox. We see deepening economic interdependence in Northeast Asia uneasily coexisting with tensions deriving from various historical issues that spill over into the political and security realms....Unlike Europe, this region does not have a framework for multilateral discussions, and this just simply doesn't make sense. This is why I propose to advance the Peace and Cooperation Initiative for Northeast Asia, whereby the countries of Northeast Asia, including the United States — and this would be firmly anchored to our alliance with the United States — could engage in discussions of nonpolitical issues, such as climate change, terrorism and nuclear safety....We could build trust and then move on to larger issues of cooperation. This is what I proposed, and while it may not seem like much, I think the state of emotions here in the region can be quite risky and dangerous, so if we could build trust, this is a project which I wish to pursue jointly with the United States and in fact it is what I suggested to President Obama in my meeting with him today.

Is the U.S. "rebalance" to Asia aimed at China?

The reason we see the security posture in the region being strengthened is because of what North Korea has been doing, as North Korea escalates the level of threats and provocations... The basis of peace in this area is to maintain a firm deterrence posture, especially with regard to North Korea. If North Korea were to choose to become a responsible member of the international community and desist from provocations...I'm sure we would not need to see the strengthening of military postures in the region.

Would you meet with North Korea's leader?

I've proposed a trust-building process on the Korean Peninsula. We will never tolerate North Korea's nuclear weapons and North Korea's provocations. Its threats will not pay. At the same time, this trust-building process is about keeping open the window to dialogue with North Korea at all times. If it chooses the right path, there can also be consequences.  . . . But what use would it be at this moment? As the Korean saying goes, it takes two hands to clap.

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