President Clinton and President Kim Dae-Jung Exchange Toasts At A State Dinner

Office of the Press Secretary
(Seoul, Republic of Korea)

For Immediate Release November 21, 1998


Blue House
Seoul, Republic of Korea

7:50 P.M. (L)

PRESIDENT KIM: President Clinton and distinguishedguests. I wholeheartedly welcome President Clinton on his firstvisit to the Republic of Korea since my inauguration. I'm deeplygratified, Mr. President, to be able to reciprocate the welcomethat you and the American people accorded me in my visit to theUnited States last June. I am also happy that such anopportunity came at such an early date.

At our summit meeting last June, President Clinton andI agreed to build up a substantial partnership between our twocountries based on the common values of democracy and a freemarket economy. Since then, our two countries have worked forthe construction of such a partnership in all areas.

As we concluded today's talks I was firmly convincedthat President Clinton's current visit to Korea will be anopportunity to demonstrate to the world that the ROK-U.S.partnership looks toward the 21st century.

Ladies and gentlemen, President Clinton has exercisedexcellent leadership in showing that the efforts of the UnitedStates to take the lead in promoting peace and prosperity of theworld will bear fruit. In particular, the U.S. efforts toeffectively cope with the new challenges that are occurring invarious parts of the world and create a post-Cold Warinternational order and stability are making practical progress.This has been possible because of President Clinton's philosophyand vision for the future peace and welfare of mankind.

President Clinton has brought peace negotiations inIreland to a successful conclusion and played a decisive role interminating a tragic situation in Kosovo. He also succeeded inbringing the Middle East peace negotiations to a conclusion. Inparticular, he made a deep impression on people around the worldby demonstrating his dedication in mediating for more than 85hours over nine days during the last stage of negotiations.

Facing financial crises in many parts of the world,including Asia, President Clinton foresaw the effects of thecrisis on the entire world and set an example for theinternational community to follow in making joint efforts toovercome the situation. Through such roles, President Clinton ismaking a decisive contribution to forging a safer and moreprosperous world by spreading such universal values as freedom,democracy, and human rights.

I am happy that I am able to work along with PresidentClinton to help strengthen such values, and firmly convinced thathistory will highly evaluate the dedication we have jointly madefor mankind.

Domestically, President Clinton is leading manyachievements. He has led the American economy to anunprecedented boom in recent years and accomplished a task ofputting national finances in the black. We highly respect suchachievements because a thriving U.S. economy brightens theprospects for the world economy.

Taking this opportunity I would like to congratulatePresident Clinton for a winning support both at home and abroadand I have strong expectations that he will continue to exercisehis leadership for the construction of a better America and abetter world.

Ladies and gentlemen, President Clinton is also playinga great role for the maintenance of peace and stability on theKorean Peninsula. The core of his role is the implementation ofengagement policy aimed at helping prevent the proliferation ofnuclear weapons in this region, including on the KoreanPeninsula, through the Geneva agreement, and inducing North Koreato become a responsible member of the international community.

I believe that President Clinton's policy of engagingNorth Korea was given new vitality with its integration of a newadministration in the Republic of Korea. The engagement policypromotes firm security and exchanges, as well as corporation inparallel.

Over the nine months since my inauguration I havepatiently and consistently pushed such a policy. The result isgradually emerging now. North Korea is cautiously, butnoticeably, taking measures to increase interaction andcooperation between the South and the North. The progress at thefour-party meeting, the General's meeting at the Panmunjom, theinclusion of elements of openness in North Korea's newconstitution, and the realization of the Mt. Kumgang tour can besaid to be the positive results of the engagement policy.

Of course, there is a negative side that includes thepenetration into South Korean waters by a North Korean submarine,the test firing of a missile, and the suspicious nuclear site inthe Kumchangni district. However, judging by the recentconditions on the Korean Peninsula and the range of choices NorthKorea has, I believe that seeking dialogue to resolve all pendingissues, while implementing the Geneva agreement, is the mostrealistic approach at this stage. When Korea and the UnitedStates cooperate with each other in this direction, based on afirm security alliance, we will be able to persuade North Koreato make a rational choice.

Since President Clinton and I met last June, I have metwith leaders of Japan, China, and the APEC member nations. Mostof them agreed that firm ROK-U.S. cooperation is a must forsecurity and peace on the Korean Peninsula. At present, Korea ismaking national efforts for reform to shed anachronistic systemsand practices as well as ways of thinking to overcome theeconomic crisis and build a new development model.

U.S. support and cooperation are vital for us inovercoming the current challenge in obtaining our goal. Fromthis point of view, although President Clinton could not attendthe APEC leaders meeting personally, I highly evaluate thepractical proposal the United States made at the meeting to helpresolve the Asian financial crisis.

In particular, I believe it is very significant thatthe United States has decided to monitor the flow of hedge fundsand support the self-help efforts by each country. Right nowKorea and the United States are maintaining better economic andtrade relations than any time before. Our efforts for economicreform are brightening the prospects for a drastic expansion of acooperative bilateral economic and trade relations.

Negotiations on automobiles, which were concludedrecently based on mutual understanding and a spirit ofcompromise, as well as negotiations for an investment treatybetween our two countries that are making progress right now arethe developments that back up such a prospect. As ROK-U.S.relations develop further, new areas of cooperation at the higherlevel are opening up.

President Clinton and I are going to push ideas ofsubstantial regional cooperation, human rights, democratizationand the environmental improvement. There's no pending issue thatKorea and the United States cannot solve. My talks with you, Mr.President, are progressing smoothly toward the point ofcompromise in all things, as proved at today's summit meeting.Although your visit to Korea at this time is short, I hope thatyou will have a relaxed time in Korea.

Ladies and gentlemen, please join me now in a toast toa deep friendship between the peoples of the Republic of Koreaand the United States, to a firmer partnership in the comingcentury, to the health of President Clinton, and to everlastingdevelopments in both our countries. Thank you very much.

(A toast is offered.) (Applause.)

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Mr. President, thank you for yourkind words and your kind welcome to Korea. I am very consciousthat this visit, my third to Korea as President, comes at apivotal time in the history of this great nation. In thatregard, Mr. President, I would like to thank you for giving myfellow Americans and me the opportunity to have dinner tonightwith such a broad range of people from every aspect of Koreansociety, and especially, thank you for having so many youngpeople here, for it is their lives that will be most affected bythe decisions we must make.

First, this is a moment of opportunity, on the 50thanniversary of your Republic, to complete what you, Mr.President, have called Korea's second nation building -- securingin freedom the gains of your remarkable postwar transformation.It is also a challenging moment, for the Korean people havesuffered from the whims of economic disruption and dislocationthat have blown so strongly throughout all Asia. We in theUnited States have been heartened by the signs that your effortsat reform and recovery are beginning to succeed.

Mr. President, if Korea is on the right path -- and Ibelieve it is -- it is not simply because economists have givengood advice and leaders have made wise choices. Morefundamentally, it is because a free people have given theirleaders a mandate to confront problems with candor and thelegitimacy to call for shared sacrifices.

Of course, there are still some who say that democracyis a luxury people can afford only when times are good. ButKorea is proving that democracy can provide the necessary supportfor action when times are difficult.

At least one person in this room has known that truthfor a long, long time. You, Mr. President, have committed alifetime to the idea that liberty and prosperity can go hand inhand. For this, you were once treated as a dangerous criminal.But we all know that Kim Dae-Jung was imprisoned not for crimesagainst his country, but for his devotion to his country and hisdetermination to put Korea's destiny into the hands of itspeople.

Now, Mr. President, look how your trust in the peoplehas been rewarded. They have transferred you from a prison cellto the Blue House. Although, if I might say only partly in jest,on the hard days I imagine being in this job can feel like a formof solitary confinement.

But this is a burden you have chosen to bear. Whatchallenges you have embraced: protecting the security of yourpeople while engaging their relatives in the North, restoringKorea's economy to growth while meeting human needs, and alwaysmaintaining the spirit of democracy.

Many years ago, President Kim said these words: "Thereare several paths to the mountaintop. During the course ofclimbing, the path we have chosen may seem to be the mosttreacherous, and the others may seem quite easy. There will beconstant temptations to change course, but one should not succumbto them. Once on the mountaintop there will be freedom to choosewhich path to follow on the descent."

All across Asia people once wondered which path Koreawould choose. Now, Korea's answer -- your answer, Mr. President-- is helping to define what Asia's path will be in the 21stcentury. I believe Asia will emerge from this present crisismore prosperous, more stable, more democratic, thanks in no smallmeasure to Korea's example.

Mr. President, we look forward to walking with you intothe future, through hard times and good times, as allies, asfriends, as pathfinders.

I ask now that all of you join me in a toast ofappreciation to President Kim and to the people of Korea, and tothe values and the future our nations will share.

(A toast is offered.) (Applause.)

Speeches on November 21, 1998

President Clinton Speaks To Korean Community Leaders

President Clinton and President Kim Dae-Jung Exchange Toasts At A State Dinner

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