Vice President Kamala Harris hosts H.E. Moon Jae-in, President of the Republic of Korea, for a bilateral meeting in the Vice President’s Ceremonial Office.
Speaking first, Vice President Harris told President Moon:
"It is my honor to meet you, Mr. President. And I enjoyed very much our conversation before we came into this room. At a time when our world faces increasing threats to our health, security, and climate, it is more important than ever that the United States and the Republic of Korea work closely together."
(translation into Korean)
"We are connected through our shared democratic and economic values, as well as through friendships, family, culture, and history. In fact the largest Korean diaspora outside of the —outside of Asia, I think outside of Korea, actually — is where I live, in Los Angeles, California. And across our nation, Korean Americans are leaders in medicine, academics, entertainment, business, and politics."
"Globally, our alliance is critical to peace, security, and prosperity in Northeast Asia, the Indo-Pacific, and around the world."
"President Joe Biden and I are confident that together we can promote a free, open and prosperous Indo-Pacific region, a region that is unconstrained by coercion and anchored in international rules and order."
"Today we will discuss a broad range of issues, including our strong partnership, as well as the challenges that exist on the Korean peninsula."
"And Mr. President, again, I am honored to meet with you. Thank you for your visit, and I look forward to our discussion."
— Sabrina Singh (@SabrinaSingh46) May 21, 2021
President Moon spoke second, in Korean; his remarks were translated into English. Here are highlights of what he said, per the translator.
President Moon thanked the VP for her "warm hospitality" and "beautiful words."
Harris nodded in response.
"You have devoted your life to promoting democracy and enhancing the human rights of minority groups, women, people of color, and the underprivileged."
Harris looked at him as those remarks were translated and nodded in the affirmative.
He said he recalled, "many women across the United States" participating in a Wear Pearls social media campaign around the time of her inauguration on Jan. 20, "which was very impressive." (Harris laughed at this). "I believe it was their way to show affection and support to you, who have fought against invisible discrimination at the forefront and a broken glass ceiling."
NEED TO KNOW
President Moon Jae-in is the second foreign leader to make an official working visit to the White House during the Biden administration. Today's meeting will be his fourth visit to the White House. Moon previously met with President Trump at the White House on June 29, 2017, May 22, 2018 and April 11, 2019. Prior to today's visit, Moon spoke with Biden on February 3, 2021 and also congratulated then President-elect Biden during a phone call on November 12, 2020. This is Moon’s first official overseas trip since his visit to China in December 2019.
Moon received his first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine in Seoul on March 23 and the second shot on April 30.
Earlier this week, Moon said that he will use this White House visit as an opportunity to strengthen COVID-19 vaccine cooperation with the US. Along with the vaccine, North Korea is another key topic that two leaders will discuss. Moon has previously emphasized that he hopes for a breakthrough in long-stalled talks with North Korea.
Moon congratulated Harris "on how the Biden-Harris administration is building back better with the world's most successful vaccine deployment and a fast economic recovery and blazing a trail for inclusiveness and in unity by restoring the soul of America." (Harris staring straight ahead vocalized "hmm" and nodded in the affirmative.)
He said the "same soul of America is found in the history of the ROK-U.S. alliance," which was forged in blood 70 years ago "to fight for freedom and democracy together."
Moon said that "Korea, as a responsible ally that shares core values with the United States, will always stand by America on its journey of recovering from COVID-19 crisis and defending liberal, democratic international order" and supports its "ambitious climate action" and will "coordinate with the U.S. with no daylight to achieve complete denuclearization and establish permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula."
In the face of changes of the post-COVID era, he said he hopes the two countries will work closely with each other to move forward together.
Harris thanked him and moved in from her lectern to shake his hand. The two shook and then turned to leave the room, with her leading him onto the balcony.