President  |  Vice President  |  First Lady  |  Mrs. Cheney  |  News & Policies 
History & ToursKids  |  Your Government  |  Appointments  |  JobsContactGraphic version

Email Updates  |  Español  |  Accessibility  |  Search  |  Privacy Policy  |  Help

Email this page to a friend

Global Diplomacy

President Bush Participates in Joint Press Availability with President Lee Myung-Bak of the Republic of Korea

April 19, 2008
Camp David

11:17 A.M. EDT

PRESIDENT BUSH: Welcome. We're glad you're here, Mr. President, and we're glad you brought Mrs. Kim. We had a wonderful dinner last night, and looking forward to having lunch, too, today.

We've had great visits. And this is an important visit for me to get to know you. I heard about your background -- I admire your strength of character, and this is an important visit to strengthen the relationship between our two countries and I believe we have done so.

President Lee is the first Korean President to visit Camp David. And I don't know if the American citizens understand your nickname -- you're known as the "Bulldozer." (Laughter.) He said to make sure that it was a bulldozer with a computer. (Laughter.) And the reason why is this is a man who takes on big challenges and he doesn't let obstacles get in the way. I like his spirit, I like his candor, and I like his optimistic vision. But most of all I really appreciate his values.

A good relationship is based upon common values, and our countries share common values -- values of the rights of each individual to live in a free society. We believe in human dignity and justice.

We discussed a variety of issues. We talked about our defense cooperation. In 2004, our nations began an alliance transformation that has involved realigning U.S. forces in Korea and relocating some of them from the Peninsula. We're in constant touch and we're constantly reassessing our needs and we have reaffirmed our need to remain in close dialogue. And we reached an agreement to maintain the current U.S. troop level on the Peninsula. This is a mutual agreement that benefits both our nations and will strengthen our alliance. And Secretary Gates and Defense Minister Lee will coordinate its implementation.

Korea has asked to upgrade its foreign military sales status with the United States and to have the same access to U.S. military technologies as NATO and other key allies, and I strongly support this request and have instructed Secretaries Rice and Gates to work with the Congress to get this done.

Yesterday, our nations signed a Memorandum of Understanding on security improvements necessary for Korea to enter the visa waiver program. This was a very important issue for the President. We spent a lot of time talking about this issue. These security enhancements put Korea on the path toward visa-free travel to the United States for its people. We promised that both sides will work hard on this issue so that Koreans will be visiting the United States under the visa waiver program before this year ends.

The United States and Korea are working to improve security and advance freedom in the Asia Pacific region. Together with China, Russia and Japan, our nations are pressing North Korea to fulfill its obligations to abandon its nuclear weapons program. Thanks to the six party framework, North Korea has begun disabling the plutonium production facilities at Yongbyon. And now North Korea must fulfill its other obligations: provide a full declaration of its nuclear programs and proliferation activities in a verifiable way.

President Lee and I discussed our mutual concern for the human condition in North Korea. We are -- our hearts break when we hear these stories of families that have been torn apart or people being subjected to harsh work camps because of their beliefs. We believe in basic rights, and we believe those rights ought to be extended to the people of North Korea.

Click here to read the full transcript

Email this page to a friend

Issues In Focus

More Issues more issues

  |   News Current News Press Briefings Proclamations   |   Executive Orders   |   Radio   |   Appointments   |   Nominations Application   |   Offices   |   Freedom Corps   |   Faith-Based & Community   |   OMB   |   More Offices   |   Major Speeches   |   Iraq Transition   |   State of the Union   |   Saddam Capture   |   UN Address   |   National Address   |   Iraqi Freedom   |   National Address