President Moon Jae-in met with new U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper at Cheong Wa Dae for 30 minutes from 2:00 p.m. today.
At the meeting, President Moon congratulated him on his confirmation by saying, “I was told that President Trump has strong confidence in Secretary of Defense Esper as a top professional in national security.”
President Moon went on to say, “I believe Secretary Esper is the most appropriate person to help carry on the ironclad ROK-U.S. alliance.” He continued, “As the ROK-U.S. alliance grows more steadfast, it should underpin denuclearization negotiations between North Korea and the United States to ensure their complete success.”
Secretary Esper responded by saying that it’s been 12 days since he assumed his post and that he chose the Indo-Pacific region for his first overseas visit because he wanted to bring a message of peace, stability and prosperity for this region.
The Defense Secretary said that the meeting between President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un in Panumunjeom was a historic and emotional event that created room for dialogue between the two sides to continue. He said he is looking forward to talks between North Korea and the United States being resumed as early as possible.
President Moon noted that the ROK-U.S. alliance has developed as a great alliance. Speaking of his uncle taking part in the Korean War, the Defense Secretary expressed his hope that the Korea-U.S. relations that have been formed through mutual sacrifices would advance further going forward.
In addition, President Moon and Secretary Esper agreed on the need for inspections and improvements so the transfer of wartime operational control of South Korean forces could proceed smoothly based on the conditions specified.