News / Asia

Clinton, Gates Visit Korean DMZ

A North Korean soldier looks through a window as a South Korean stands guard during the visit of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the U.N. truce village building that sits on the border of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), in Panmunjon, South Korea,
A North Korean soldier looks through a window as a South Korean stands guard during the visit of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the U.N. truce village building that sits on the border of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), in Panmunjon, South Korea,

The U.S. secretaries of State and Defense made an unprecedented joint visit to the Korean demilitarized zone, Wednesday morning, in a show of solidarity with South Korea. The visit by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates came in the wake of the sinking of a South Korean Navy ship by North Korea and just a few days before the first of several large scale military exercises in the area designed to send a message of strength and resolve to the North.

U.S. Army Sergeant Cory Strickland acts as tour guide for a group of reporters heading into the zone with Secretary Gates. Here, security is a priority.

"Well, you know we just have to pay particular attention, you know, because we're, like, in the world's eye being up here on the front line, pretty much," said Strickland.  "You know, I believe if North Korea wanted to make a statement, this would probably be the place to do it."

This is among the last vestiges of the Cold War, a heavily defended five-kilometer-wide buffer zone between two countries with the same language and culture, but starkly different societies.

It was Secretary Clinton's first visit to the zone.

"Although it may be a thin line, these two places are worlds apart," said Clinton.

Standing just a few meters from the Armistice Line, with North Korea as a backdrop, Clinton and Gates both spoke of the strong alliance between the United States and South Korea, and the U.S. commitment to help defend the South.  The demilitarized zone is a symbol of the ongoing confrontation with North Korea, heightened by the ship sinking, but Secretary Clinton said that does not have to continue.

"There is a better way," she said.  "There is a way that can benefit the people of the North. But until they change direction, the United States stands firmly on behalf of the people and government of the Republic of Korea."

So far, the Obama administration's efforts to use multilateral diplomacy to end North Korea's nuclear weapons program and moderate its behavior have not been successful.

Secretaries Gates and Clinton entered the negotiation building that straddles the demarcation line and crossed briefly to the North Korean side as they were shown around. A North Korean soldier stared at them from just a few centimeters away, through a window.

The joint visit comes four months after the sinking of the South Korean Navy ship, Cheonan, which killed 46 sailors on board. An international investigation concluded that a North Korean torpedo sank the ship, but North Korea denies the charge.  On Tuesday, the United States and South Korea formally announced a series of joint military exercises, starting this Sunday, as a show of solidarity and a warning to North Korea against making any further such attacks.

Secretary Gates referred to the attack in his statement at the DMZ.

"Looking out across the DMZ, it is stunning how little has changed in the North and yet how much South Korea has continued to grow and prosper," said Secretary Gates.  "The North, by contrast, stagnates in isolation and depravation.  And, as we saw with the sinking of the Cheonan, it continues its history of unpredictable and, at times, provocative behavior."

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates with South Korean Defense Minister Kim Tae-Young prepare to greet visitors at the Korean War Memorial in Seoul, 21 July 2010
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates with South Korean Defense Minister Kim Tae-Young prepare to greet visitors at the Korean War Memorial in Seoul, 21 July 2010

Secretaries Gates and Clinton went from the demilitarized zone to the Korean War Memorial in Seoul, less than an hour away by road. They paid their respects to the dead from all of South Korea's wars and stopped at a plaque bearing the names of the sailors who were on board the Cheonan. The brief ceremony was part of the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the start of the Korean War.

The secretaries also met with their South Korean counterparts for the first-ever such joint meeting for the two countries. To emphasize the seriousness with which the United States is taking the Cheonan incident, the American cabinet members were accompanied by a high-level civilian and military delegation, including the top U.S. military officer, Admiral Mike Mullen, and the commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, Admiral Robert Willard.

You May Like

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

VOA Blogs