Tuesday, June 17, 2014

US Senate set to hold hearing on nominee for ambassador to Seoul (and his prepared testimony)

His prepared testimony is pasted below.

The reason the Koreans are happy about this nomination is this excerpt (the first sentence anyway):

Lippert is a close aide of Obama and often telephones the president.
If confirmed, the 41-year-old would become the youngest U.S. ambassador to South Korea. It would also be unusual as Lippert is a non-career diplomat.

US Senate set to hold hearing on nominee for ambassador to Seoul

Mark Lippert, nominee to become the U.S. ambassador to South Korea, will testify this week at a Senate confirmation hearing, which would shed light on his views on the bilateral alliance and regional security issues.
The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations plans to open the session Tuesday afternoon to be presided over by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), according to its website.
Lippert, currently Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's chief of staff, will be joined by three other nominees at the hearing.
In early May, President Barack Obama nominated Lippert as his new top envoy in Seoul to replace Sung Kim.
Lippert is a close aide of Obama and often telephones the president.
If confirmed, the 41-year-old would become the youngest U.S. ambassador to South Korea. It would also be unusual as Lippert is a non-career diplomat.
He is also known for his expertise on Korea and broader regional security issues, having worked as assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs from April 2012 to May 2013.
He previously worked as chief of staff for the White House National Security Council (NSC). (Yonhap) 

Testimony of Mark Lippert
Ambassador-Nominee to the Republic of Korea
Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Tuesday, June 17, 2014, 3 p.m.
Chairman Cardin, Senator Rubio, distinguished Members of the Committee: I am
deeply honored to appear before you as the President's nominee to serve as U.S.
Ambassador to the Republic of Korea. I am humbled by the confidence the
President and the Secretary of State have shown in putting me forward for this
Having proudly served as a Personal Representative of the Member to this
Committee, it is very meaningful to be back in this Committee room today. In
large part through my service on Capitol Hill, which spanned nearly a decade, I am
keenly aware that close partnership with Congress is critically important to success
in diplomacy. And if confirmed, I pledge to always be a strong partner and friend
to this committee.
I would also like to thank my former boss, Senator Leahy, for his gracious
introduction. I know just how busy he is juggling his many important
Please let me also say a few words about my wife. As Senator Leahy mentioned, I
met Robyn when we worked together on Capitol Hill. She has been the best
partner that anyone could ask for and has patiently put up with years of military
deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, long hours at the Pentagon and
the National Security Council, and the intensity of work for the Senate Foreign
Relations and Appropriations Committees.
Members of the Committee, simply put: the alliance between the United States
and the Republic of Korea is one of the most important relationships that we have
in the world. Through my many visits to the Republic of Korea, I have come to
greatly respect the people and culture of the Republic of Korea. Our two countries
share deeply held values of free markets, democracy, and respect for human rights
and the rule of law. And we share a common history of fighting together to uphold
these values and to defend our security.
I am proud to say that the ties between our two countries have never been stronger.
If confirmed, I pledge to work tirelessly, in close partnership with this Committee,
to make our Alliance even stronger.
As the former Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Asia-Pacific, I have had the
opportunity to work closely with our South Korean allies, Commanding Generals
of United States Forces Korea, and senior members of our diplomatic team. I have
seen the enduring strength of this alliance firsthand.
I continue to be vigilant about the stark threat that North Korea poses the U.S.
homeland, to security on the peninsula, in the region, and around the world -
including through its continued pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missile
technology, its worldwide proliferation activities, and egregious human rights
violations against its own citizens.
If confirmed, I will work closely with the leadership of the Republic of Korea to
ensure we are fully aligned in our efforts to achieve the complete and verifiable
denuclearization of North Korea and prevent proliferation of key technologies. I
have built a good working relationship with General Scaparrotti, the Commander
of U.S. Forces Korea, and if confirmed, look forward to partnering closely with
him and the Department of Defense as they work to strengthen our deterrence on
the peninsula and ensure that the 28,500 U.S. troops stationed there are ready to
"fight tonight," if necessary.
Although our alliance was established with a mutual commitment to security, our
nations have built deep and growing economic ties. The U.S.-Korea Free Trade
Agreement, or KORUS FTA, is now in its third year, and American and Korean
consumers, businesses, and workers have benefited from it. Last year, the United
States achieved a large investment surplus with the Republic of Korea, and U.S.
goods exports are up 11.7 percent this year so far. That said, the full potential of
the FTA has yet to be fully realized; more tariff cuts and additional provisions will
come into force in the years to come. If confirmed, I will work to ensure the
KORUS FTA is fully implemented so that American exporters, entrepreneurs, and
workers can receive the benefits for which this Administration negotiated so hard.
This alliance is also increasingly tackling global challenges as well. Our global
partnership includes cooperation on everything from counter-terrorism and
counter-piracy to climate change and development. The United States is also
negotiating a successor 123 civil nuclear cooperation agreement with South Korea
that will allow us to continue our cooperation in this field, while maintaining our
strong non-proliferation standards.
Finally, our strong people-to-people ties reinforce our shared values and interests.
Each year, the Republic of Korea sends more university students to the United
States per capita than any other major country. We have innovative exchange
programs between our students and our science experts. If confirmed, I will make
public diplomacy a top priority and work to foster these exchanges and bring more
Korean education and tourism dollars to the United States. And if confirmed, I
will be proud to also represent the over 1.7 million U.S. citizens that are of Korean
descent and who contribute vitally to the deepening ties between our peoples.
Our Embassy in Seoul has a talented team comprised of career diplomats, civil
servants from a range of U.S. agencies, and local Korean staff who are dedicated to
advancing U.S. interests every day. If confirmed, I will work to ensure my team
has the resources, training, and guidance to strengthen and broaden our alliance
with the Republic of Korea.
Mr. Chairman, the U.S.-ROK alliance is the linchpin of security and prosperity on
the Korean Peninsula, in the Asia-Pacific, and around the world. Being nominated
to represent the United States in Seoul is the honor of my lifetime, and if
confirmed I will work night and day to advance this critical relationship.
Thank you very much for your consideration of my nomination, and I look forward
to taking your questions.

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