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Remarks En Route Seoul, Korea

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Seoul, Korea
June 28, 2008

SECRETARY RICE: Good morning. Earlier than expected. Good morning. How are you? We're now going to go on to South Korea and I look forward to conversations there with my counterpart and also, with the President, Lee Myung-bak. We have many issues on the agenda. I expect also that we'll have a chance to review the progress in the six-party talks and the way forward. We'll review whatever else is on the minds of our South Korean colleagues, including trade issues, which have been very much in the news. And we continue to try to address the concerns of the South Korean Government, and I think we believe that we've made progress in that regard.

Just to wrap up on the G-8, I had a very good trilateral last night, by the way, with the Australians and the Japanese, where we had wide-ranging discussions about the changing circumstances in this very vibrant region. But to go back just for a moment to the G-8, it was a very good discussion, but I thought that the statement on Zimbabwe was particularly strong. I understand that the United States mission to the UN is now working with others on next steps, including, perhaps, what kind of resolution the UN Security Council might wish to adopt. We will see what the views are among members of the Security Council, but I think it's very important that there be some steps, next steps in the Security Council. And since the United States is in the presidency, we will pursue that until – at the beginning of next week.

So thank you very much and I'll take a couple of questions. Matt.

QUESTION: Yes. Just two very brief ones. One, when you talk about --

QUESTION: Zimbabwe --

QUESTION: No, one on Zimbabwe, then one on South Korea, but they'll be very short on both. You said you continue to try to address the concerns of the South Korea Government; we have made progress on that regard. You're talking about the beef. But what about the South Korean people? They don't seem to have gotten this or believe their government or your government.

And then when you say on Zimbabwe earlier in the week – we're talking about Monday, Tuesday – and how much of it is dependent on how much of a sham yesterday actually was?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I don't think there's any doubt that yesterday was a sham. And I think we'll obviously want to get reports from people who were on the ground. But there are widespread reports of people being intimidated into voting in a particular way, and I also think there has to be – or voting for Mugabe. I think there also has to be a deterrent effect from the international community at this point to say that -- further intimidation, further violence against the population.

Again, I don't want to react on the basis of reports that we have not verified, but when we've heard of people being threatened that if they did not vote for Mugabe, they'll be sought out for violence or for reprisal – and so there needs to be a really strong message from the international community about what has happened there. We're going to be in very close contact with all of our AU colleagues. As a matter of fact, the Assistant Secretary Jendayi Frazer will be going to the AU meetings in Egypt. And I hope there will be equally strong statements coming out of the AU.

On South Korea, we have, with the South Korean Government, addressed concerns. We've come to a new set of arrangements, new set of agreements. I can only say that American beef is safe, and that we hope that in time, the South Korean people will listen to that and will be willing to listen to what their government is saying and what we're saying. Because indeed, the United States believes strongly in the safety of its product and strongly in the benefits of trade between the United States and a government ally like South Korea.

QUESTION: And you mentioned the deterrent effect for Mugabe. I mean, until now, he doesn't seem to be deterred. It's just hard to imagine what it could be. And then the other thing on the South Korean beef; is there an anti-American – sorry, it's not working, though -- yeah – yeah, I know – on South Korean beef, is there any anti-Americanism in (inaudible)?

SECRETARY RICE: I assume this a protest about beef. I haven't been on the ground. We're following the situation. But look, we have very strong and good relations with South Korea, very good and strong relations with this government and with the South Korean people. I believe we're going to have an opportunity to talk about the work that we've done together in the six-party talks in order to bring progress there, obvious progress over the last couple of days. And so this is a broad agenda. The trade agenda is important, but it's a part of a broad relationship with South Korea that's working very well.

And as to Mugabe, I think we will have to look to see what other measures are available, both to the United States and to the international community more broadly to send a strong message of deterrence. The United States has already put in place a wide range of sanctions. I think we'll look to see if there are more.

QUESTION: What sanctions will you consider on the Security Council? And is it not a problem that China and Russia won't go along with real sanctions, so you might be limited to just – you know, more condemnation on Zimbabwe?

SECRETARY RICE: The United States will use everything in our power in terms of sanctions – appropriate sanctions. I think you're likely to see more from Europe. And I – you know, in the discussions yesterday, we were very clear with all of our colleagues that it's time for the international community to act. And we'll see how Russia and China react when we get together in the Security Council. But it's hard to imagine that anybody could fail to act given what we're all watching on the ground in Zimbabwe.

QUESTION: Two things. Secretary Rice, can you explain President Bush's decision not to stop in South Korea when he comes to Asia? I think there was talk of him coming if I'm not mistaken. Maybe that's wrong. And have you had -- yourself, had a chance to read through the North Korean declaration or perhaps a summary of it? And can you just reflect on any omissions or what struck you about it?

SECRETARY RICE: I have not had an opportunity to review it. And people are reviewing it, and so I'll wait until it's been reviewed before I make any comment. I am quite certain that the issue is that we're still going to have to verify all of it. And so that's the next step, is to get the verification protocols in place. The President is going to go to Japan at an appropriate time. I'm certain he'll come to South Korea as well, but he's going to the G-8. And that's the purpose of the trip to Asia.

QUESTION: It wasn't a discussion (inaudible)?

SECRETARY RICE: Look, I'm not going to get into presidential scheduling, but he's going to the G-8. And that is quite a trip in and of itself, and so he will do that. And at some point in time, I'm sure he'll – he'll be able to visit China and South Korea. As you know, he'll be back in the region again very soon because of the Beijing Olympics.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY RICE: Again, I am not going to get – I don't do presidential scheduling any longer. (Laughter.) That used to be my job. It's not my job anymore. Yeah.

MR. MCCORMACK: All right?

SECRETARY RICE: All right? Thanks.


Released on June 28, 2008

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