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Transcript of address at official luncheon with President Roh Moo-Hyun, Blue House, Seoul, Korea.

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18 July 2003




Your Excellency President Moo-hyun of the Republic of Korea, Mrs Kwon, Ministers in the Korean Government, ladies and gentlemen.

It is for my wife and I and our party a great pleasure to be here in Seoul and to join you in this luncheon. Australia and Korea are close friends. We have a very deep economic relationship and we have much shared history, and a very important part of that shared history will be commemorated on the 27th of July when Australian veterans join the veterans of other countries in marking the 50th anniversary of the signing of the armistice in the Korean War.

Your Excellency, during our discussions this morning we devoted almost an hour to talking on the vexed and challenging issue of North Korea. We all want this matter settled peacefully. No country has a greater interest in the peaceful resolution of this issue than yours. Your Excellency, and Australia will work closely with you and other nations whose goal is the same.

We warmly welcome the significant involvement of China in acting as a party wanting to bring about a fair and peaceful resolution. It is necessary that the nations of the world maintain a steady diplomatic campaign to achieve the outcome we all want. But for that campaign to be successful, it is essential that the nations most directly involved speak with the same voice and show a united front and a united determination to achieve the right outcome.

Our relationship Mr President is very extensive when it comes to trade and commerce. Many Australians perhaps do not know that a Korean company, POSCO, is the largest single commercial customer that Australia has anywhere in the world, and we are very happy to see that custom get even bigger. All of us have an interest in a more open world trading system. You were kind enough Mr President to refer to Australia’s economic performance. Let me acknowledge the extraordinary economic performance of Korea, whose rate of growth is one of the fastest, if not the fastest, in the OECD area. Indeed, frequently in speeches Mr


President in Australia, I quote Korea as an outstanding example of a country which has grabbed hold of the benefits of globalization and transformed her economy in the lifetime of many, if not most, people in this room.

Mr President, again my warm thanks to you and your wife for the welcome you have extended to Janette and myself. To have the opportunity to talk directly and openly with you at such a critical time in the history of your country and the region, has been very valuable. Let me assure you that we remain your firm friend, a very understanding partner and colleague, in addressing a most difficult issue.

Ladies and gentlemen, could you join me in a toast to the health of his His Excellency the President of Korea, Mrs Kwon and the friendship of the people of Australia and the people of Korea.