Strengthening the Ironclad U.S.-ROK Alliance

03/17/2021 11:11 AM EDT

Office of the Spokesperson

“America’s alliances are our greatest asset, and leading with diplomacy means standing shoulder-to-shoulder with our allies and key partners once again.”
– President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., February 4, 2021

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III will travel to Seoul, Republic of Korea (ROK), March 17–18 to reaffirm the United States’ commitment to strengthening our Alliance and to highlight cooperation that promotes peace, security, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific and around the world.

Secretary Blinken and Secretary Austin will attend a U.S.-ROK Foreign and Defense Ministerial (“2+2”) hosted by the ROK’s Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong and Minister of Defense Suh Wook.  Secretary Blinken will meet with Foreign Minister Chung and other senior officials to discuss issues of bilateral and global importance.

Secretary Blinken will also meet virtually with Korean youth leaders and host a virtual roundtable with emerging Korean journalists to discuss the importance of a free press and the U.S.-ROK Alliance.

Addressing the Challenges of Today and the Future

  • The U.S.-ROK Alliance is the linchpin of peace, security, and prosperity for Northeast Asia, a free and open Indo-Pacific region, and across the world. U.S.-ROK military and defense ties are unwavering, and our ever-increasing economic, technological, diplomatic, people-to-people, and values-based bonds are strong and enduring.
  • ROK engagement in the Indo-Pacific and across the world is essential, as demonstrated most recently by its response to COVID-19. In the early months of the pandemic, the United States and the ROK collaborated to establish robust travel screening measures to preserve air links between our countries and assisted with repatriating each other’s citizens.  The ROK donated critical medical supplies to the United States, including 2.5 million protective masks, and facilitated the purchase of 750,000 COVID-19 tests.  U.S. and ROK experts and policymakers continue to regularly share best practices on fighting COVID-19.
  • The ROK is a major donor and leader in development efforts, including health security, women’s empowerment, and humanitarian assistance. Through our ongoing dialogues on the Indo-Pacific in coordination with the ROK New Southern Policy, the U.S.-ROK Alliance is focused on a future-oriented partnership, including cooperation on health security, climate change, science and technology, renewable energy, law enforcement, cyber security, and cooperation with the Pacific Island countries the Mekong sub-region, and ASEAN.

Comprehensive Economic Ties between the Korean and American People

  • The United States is the ROK’s second largest trading partner, and the ROK is the United States’ sixth largest trading partner. The United States is the second largest investor in the Republic of Korea.
  • ROK foreign direct investment in the United States continues to grow and has more than tripled from $19.7 billion in 2011 to $61.1 billion in 2019, making the ROK the second-largest Asian source of foreign direct investment into the United States. The United States is the largest foreign direct investment destination for ROK investors, ahead of China and Vietnam.  In recent years, ROK companies have made major investment announcements in automotive components, industrial equipment, green energy, consumer electronics, and other sectors.  U.S. firms also play an important role in key sectors of the Korean economy.
  • The United States and the ROK hold an annual Senior Economic Dialogue during which policymakers coordinate on bilateral, regional, and global economic issues and advance regional economic cooperation.

An Alliance Built on People-to-People Ties

  • Over 1.7 million Korean students have enrolled in the United States since 1955. During the 2019/2020 academic year, more than 49,000 Korean students came to the United States.  The ROK is the largest per capita source of foreign students in the United States.
  • More than two million ROK citizens visit, work, or live in the United States, and over 200,000 U.S. citizens reside in the ROK. More than 10,000 U.S. and ROK citizens have participated in USG-sponsored exchanges, including 3600 Fulbrighters and almost 2000 International Visitor Leadership Program participants.
  • Prominent alumni include nine ROK Prime Ministers, countless dozens of National Assembly members, and two former ROK Presidents, including Kim Dae-jung, a Nobel Peace Prize recipient.

Strengthening U.S.-Japan-Republic of Korea Cooperation

  • The Biden-Harris Administration is working to strengthen America’s relationships with our allies, and the relationships between those allies. No relationship is more important than that between the ROK and Japan.  The United States continues to promote expanded U.S.-ROK-Japan cooperation to tackle COVID-19 and combat climate change, as well as reinvigorate trilateral cooperation on a broad range of global issues, including the denuclearization of the DPRK.
  • A robust and effective trilateral relationship between the United States, the ROK, and Japan is critical for our joint security and interests in defending freedom and democracy, upholding human rights, championing women’s empowerment, combating climate change, promoting regional and global peace, security, and the rule of law in the Indo-Pacific and across the globe.

Securing Peace, Stability, and Prosperity in Northeast Asia and the Indo-Pacific

  • The U.S. commitment to the defense of the ROK remains ironclad.  The Alliance continues to work toward our shared goals of securing peace, stability, and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula and throughout the Indo-Pacific.
  • The United States and the ROK work together to combat regional and global threats, as well as promote peace, security, and prosperity.  The United States maintains U.S. forces on the Korean Peninsula in support of its commitment under the U.S.-ROK Mutual Defense Treaty to help meet the common danger posed by external threats. North Korea poses a serious threat to international peace and security and the global nonproliferation regime.  The United States remains committed to strengthening deterrence against and the denuclearization of North Korea, as well as the protection and promotion of human rights in North Korea.
  • The Biden-Harris Administration is conducting a North Korea policy review in close consultation with the ROK, Japan, and other key partners, including reviewing  the potential for future diplomacy.