Antony J. Blinken
Deputy Secretary of State
Seoul, South Korea
April 19, 2016
Thank you very much. Let me first express my great appreciation to my good friends Vice Foreign Minister Lim and Vice Foreign Minister Saiki for what is now our third round of consultations in just the last year at the level of Deputy-Secretary and Vice Foreign Minister, and I am especially grateful to Vice Foreign Minister Lim for hosting us today in Seoul.
I also want to start by conveying our deepest condolences from the United States to the families of those who lost their loved ones or were injured in the Kyushu earthquake. Our heartfelt thoughts are with those affected and with the people of Japan. The U.S. military is now providing planes to assist in the recovery. We stand ready to help in any other way that our friends require.
Our positive and concrete discussions this morning and this afternoon demonstrated the importance of our trilateral cooperation and its centrality to the defense of our shared interests and the advancement of our shared ideals. I think my colleagues will agree that this was our most productive meeting yet, and that our trilateral partnership is stronger than it’s ever been.
Three weeks ago, the leaders of our three countries, President Obama, President Park and Prime Minister Abe, met in Washington, D.C. to reaffirm a common vision for a rules-based order at the heart of the Asia-Pacific, where all countries—regardless of size—act according to established norms and principles.
The benefits of our strong trilateral relationship are crystal clear in the face of the region’s most acute threat: North Korea. Today, we agreed to expand our cooperation even further in response to its provocative and destabilizing behavior. We will step up trilateral consultations on sanctions implementation, including those under UN Security Council Resolution 2270. We will work trilaterally to increase the capabilities of others to counter North Korean proliferation activities. And our three countries will continue to shine an intense light on North Korea’s deplorable human rights violations.
We also recognize that bringing our capabilities together magnifies our impact far beyond the immediate region. Our trilateral partnership is a force multiplier for good around the world.
Since our last meeting in January, we have had separate trilateral meetings of cyber and health experts, including discussing our support for cyber capacity building and our collaboration against deadly epidemics, like Zika and Ebola. We are also pleased to team up in the fight to cure cancer, an effort at the center of the White House’s Cancer Moonshot Initiative, led by Vice President Biden. If there are any three countries with the talent and the determination to achieve this triumph for humanity, it is the three countries that we represent.
And this summer, as the Vice Foreign Minister said, we will convene our first trilateral Middle East dialogue in Washington to discuss a common approach to key issues—from countering Daesh to fighting violent extremism to alleviating suffering and providing humanitarian assistance in Iraq and Syria.
Recognizing that empowering women and girls remains an important priority—in our three countries and also around the world—I invited Korea and Japan today to participate in a trilateral women’s empowerment meeting in July in Washington that will also invite civil society and business to the table.
We also welcome Japan’s invitation to a trilateral development experts meeting to coordinate our initiatives in the Lower Mekong and beyond, as well as putting together a humanitarian assistance and disaster response working group to test our collective readiness on a range of natural disaster scenarios.
And we discussed the importance of international law and the peaceful settlements of disputes, freedom of navigation and overflight, and unimpeded lawful commerce. Our security and prosperity depend on upholding these principles.
Taken together, these outcomes show that the courageous statecraft of our leaders has paved the way for an early harvest of renewed trilateral cooperation on many of the world’s most important issues.
So I have to say that I come away from this meeting very optimistic about the prospects for even more progress this year in our trilateral partnership. When our capabilities for good meet our willingness to lead, there is no literally nothing that we cannot accomplish.
Thank you very much.