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Roh Says Korea Needs US Forces

Posted January. 15, 2003 22:15,   


President-elect Roh Moo-hyun visited the ROK/US Combined Forces Command. During his visit, he said, "The United States forces, teamed up with their Korean counterparts, have contributed to deterring outbreak of war on the Korean Peninsula and in East Asia. We need you to maintain the peace and stability in this country." His remarks have silenced all the debates, being waged in and outside Korea, over withdrawal of the US forces from Korea.

Roh, referring to those who have anti-American sentiment, said, "I oppose interpreting as the anti-Americanism the demonstrations and demands of South Koreans for more conducive and rational relationships between two countries. Some contend for withdrawal of US forces. I think differences can be ironed out with our constant efforts based on the friendship between Korea and the United States."

Then, Roh praised the efforts and dedication of the US forces and was quoted as saying, "It is regrettable that a curfew has been imposed on US solders due to the recent unfortunate events [like killing of two middles school students by US armored vehicle, and the candle-lit demonstrations]. I understand that quality of life for US solders in Korea, including the living environment, are not so good in consideration of those in other countries."

As to North Korea`s nuclear ambition, he stressed, "It is not acceptable at all for North to develop nuclear weapons." Then, he said, "We have to resolve this matter, based on consultation and cooperation between Korea and the United States, through peaceful and diplomatic means acceptable by the international community including Japan, China and Russia."

Roh reviewed the forces with 21 gunshots being fired, commemorating his visit. On the guest book, he wrote in Korean and English, "We are good friends."

On hand were Roh`s Chief of Staff Shin Gye-ryoon, spokesperson Lee Nok-yon, Congressional Defense Committee Chairman Chong Young-dol, and Presidential Transition Committee member Yoon Young-kwon.

Seung-Ryun Kim srkim@donga.com