Saturday, March 16, 2013

President Park to make first overseas visit to the US in May

Seems we may have got off on the wrong foot according to this article below.  But I am very happy that she will travel to the US first.  I think that we should keep in mind given everything that is going on on the Peninsula and the region, the ROK/US Alliance is going to continue to be a key foreign policy and national security pillar for both nations.  Here are a few recommendations for the first meeting.

We should keep in mind that in the future President Park will travel to Beijing which is a good thing to do given the north Korean situation.  Good relations between Seoul and Beijing will send a strong signal to the north.  However, with her visit to the US we need to conduct some diplomatic and political activities that will ensure everyone understands that the Alliance is rock solid (and we need to subtly outdo the Chinese.)

The most important task as I have mentioned is reaffirming and hopefully expanding the 2009 Joint Vision Statement.  There needs to be a signed document and a joint press conference to unveil it at the end of the visit.  They need to reinforce the strategic end state of Korean unification.

They also need to agree that the north is trying to split the alliance which is always one of the objectives of the north's provocations (the other being to obtain political and economic concessions).  They need to work on a plan (or actually agree to a plan hammered out by Korean and US action officers) to have menu of responses so that each time the north conducts a provocation the Alliance can do something to show that the north's actions are making the alliance stronger.  There can include such things as renaming Key Resolve/Foal Eagle to Team Spirit; increase port calls of US Navy ships (perhaps use Korean ports for appropriate maintenance of US naval ships so that they spend a longer amount of time than the standard port call; returning US forces to patrolling the DMZ integrated into the ROK C2 structure for operations on the DMZ, returning US forces to Korea (e.g., the helicopter battalion and others) to turn around the long term slow reduction of US forces on the Peninsula that has been occurring since 1978, and of course my favorite, the announcement that the ROK/US CFC will not be dissolved but will be fully supported and resourced to achieve victory and then lastly an announcement that a ROK General will take command of the ROK/US CFC.  I am sure the action officers can establish a comprehensive menu for responses.  But all of this must be built on the ROK/US vision and a long term strategy.  I would like the two Presidents to agree to have the military reexamine the dissolution of CFC and the movement of US forces South (in particular 2ID) and decide that by 2014 a decision will be made to reverse the dissolution(keeping in mind that it could be strategically wise to announce that decision sooner depending on the type of pressure that we want to exert on the north and the messages we want to send.

Finally in terms of diplomatic and political activities:  There should be a state dinner of course or a visit to Camp David (which might not be a bad thing for the ROK and US senior leaders to hammer out the strategy necessary – but there may not be enough time for that).  I would also recommend an address to a joint session of Congress.  Interestingly I understand that the last address to a joint session was in 2011 and it was made by President Lee and there has not been one since.  That would send quite a message about the strength and importance of the Alliance if Korea had the only back to back addresses to Congress by two of its Presidents.

I certainly hope this visit is being well planned now and that we do not have any more bumps in the road like the one described below.  I think it is absolutely imperative that in addition to reaffirming the Joint Vision that this visit has all the right political symbolism to ensure that the countries in the region and in particularly the north get the message about the importance and strength of the Alliance.  This will set the foundation for all future actions and strategy development and execution.

President Park to make first overseas visit to the US in May
Posted on : Mar.13,2013 11:15 KST

American official may have breached protocol by announcing the date of Park’s visit prematurely 

By Seok Jin-hwan, Blue House correspondent and Park Hyun, Washington correspondent

Park Geun-hye plans to follow the precedent set by previous presidents by visiting the US on her first overseas visit, with a summit meeting scheduled with president Barack Obama in early May.

While the decision was expected, given the US’s diplomatic importance, a number of issues remain to be addressed between the two leaders.

First among them is the matter of strengthening the alliance in response to the recent crisis on the Korean Peninsula with North Korea’s third nuclear test, the United Nations sanctions imposed in response, and Pyongyang’s declaration that it would nullify the 1953 armistice agreement. Experts are also predicting the two leaders will discuss Park’s ideas for a “trust-building process” in inter-Korean affairs, an area of continued emphasis during her election campaign, and for getting the six-party talks on the nuclear issue off the ground again. A Blue House official said the discussions would likely address ideas for cooperation on the 60th anniversary of the alliance this year, as well as a wide range of other issues, including North Korea’s nuclear program.

Another major item on the agenda is likely to be amending the two countries’ atomic energy agreement, which currently restricts the reprocessing of spent fuel rods. The current agreement will expire in March 2014. Park already made a request along these lines during a meeting with US House Committee on Foreign Affairs chairman Ed Royce after her election, asking for cooperation from him and other members of Congress so that the agreement could be amended in a more “future-oriented” way.
(Continued at the link below)

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