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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release November 23, 1993
                        IN EXCHANGE OF TOASTS
                        The State Dining Room

8:38 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. President, Mrs. Kim, distinguished guests, four months ago the First Lady and I were deeply honored by the warm hospitality that the President and Mrs. Kim extended to us during our visit to Korea, including a memorable state dinner at Korea's Blue House. Tonight it is our pleasure to welcome President and Mrs. Kim to the first state dinner we've held here at the White House.

Mr. President, your leadership for democracy and your great personal sacrifice in the cause of democracy in Korea has been an inspiration to freedom-loving people around the world. And you have provided leadership, as well, for your country's remarkable economic performance which has made Korea a model for other nations. Terrain that once was bomb-scarred and war-ravaged today supports modern factories and new skyscrapers. In just 33 years, Korea's output has increased and astounding 100 fold.

The optimism and perseverance that have made South Korea great can also be found in abundance here in our Korean-American community. Over one million Korean-Americans today are contributing greatly to the dynamism of our American life. They are building bonds of cooperation across an ocean of opportunity -- bonds that will serve our two nations well as we meet the many challenges that face us both in the years ahead.

For 43 years, Mr. President, America and Korea have stood shoulder to shoulder to preserve security on the peninsula. Today new challenges, such as North Korea's nuclear program, continue to demand our vigilance and our determined effort. But they also demand that we demonstrate vision. You and I share a vision, Mr. President, a vision of a Korea at peace and one day reunited on terms acceptable to the Korean people.

During my visit to Korea in July, I was moved not only by the beauty of the Land of the Morning Calm, but also by the spirit of the people. When I visited Seoul, I gained a better appreciation of the scope of Korea's economic success -- the miracle on the Han. When I stood on the somber bridge at the Point of No Return, I gained a deeper appreciation for Korea's continuing security challenges. When I spoke to the national assembly, I gained an inspiring appreciation of Korea's commitment to democracy. And when I went jogging with President Kim, (laughter) I gained a fresh appreciation for the warmth, the vigor and the endurance of Korea's leader. (Laughter.)

President Kim, it is with great admiration for you and for the people of Korea that I invite everyone here to join me in a toast to you and to the Republic of Korea. May democracy continue to flourish there and may the dream of peaceful reunification on the Korean peninsula soon become a reality.

To President and Mrs. Kim and the people of the Republic of Korea. Hear, hear. (Applause.)

PRESIDENT KIM: President and Mrs. Clinton, distinguished guests, I'm deeply grateful to President and Mrs. Clinton for this wonderful state dinner for myself, my wife and the members of my delegation.

I had a very pleasant and amicable time with President Clinton in Seoul last July, and also I confirmed our friendship in Seattle in the APEC conference. Through my several meetings with him I was very impressed with his frank and warm personality and excellent leadership and passion for democracy.

The APEC leaders' economic conference held in Seattle last week was a very timely and important event for many countries of the Asia Pacific region which is emerging as the global economic center. I believe that its signal, the quiet but undeniable opening of the Asia Pacific era. I would like to take this opportunity as one of the leaders in the region to thank President Clinton for having successfully hosted that important meeting. And I express my sincere congratulations to the President.

America and Korea have been endeavoring to carry out the changes and reforms necessary to adapt to the rapidly changing world. And I sincerely hope that the efforts under the leadership of President Clinton to make the future better for America will be successful.

As a reform-minded colleague in these fast changing times, I feel a renewed sense of kinship and solidarity with President Clinton. At the same time, I would like to reaffirm here that our people fervently hope that the United States of America will remain a world leader and our powerful ally. It is my firm conviction that as we both treasure the common values and systems of liberal democracy and market economy, our two peoples will be able to build an exemplary partnership.

Mr. President, Mrs. Clinton and distinguished guests, the deep relationship between our two nations has not been built overnight. This solid friendship has been based upon the sweat and blood of so many people who endeavor to promote understanding and interaction over a long period of time, as illustrated by the noble sacrifices of young Americans who fought in the Korean War for freedom as well as the devotion of the American Peace Corps volunteers.

One such person is Ambassador James Laney, who has recently assumed his post in Korea. Ambassador Laney was an Army lieutenant in the U.S. forces that landed in Korea in 1945. Later, he contributed greatly to the development of the Republic of Korea through educational and missionary endeavors. I firmly believe that such deep-rooted ties between our two peoples underpin our everlasting alliance and partnership. I know that our gathering here this evening vividly symbolizes the existence of such a close relationship.

Yesterday, I had the honor of receiving the Averell Harriman Democracy Award. The American people have steadfastly supported and encouraged democratic development in Korea. And I believe that this award is the embodiment of both the congratulations and encouragement they send to the Korean people. It also reflects the firm bonds of friendship between our two peoples.

Our Korean forefathers held to the simple truth that a deep well never runs dry. I now believe that we should carefully preserve the deep well that will continue to nourish the bonds of friendship between our peoples in the years to come. This is, of course, the well of democracy and liberty.

Distinguished guests, when President Clinton visited Seoul last July, he spoke about the spring of hope and the spring of democracy. Here we are having a season of harvest and a season of thanksgiving.

Since I had an excellence chance of jogging together with President Clinton when he visited Korea in July, we will jog again tomorrow morning. (Laughter and applause.)

In hopes that both our peoples have a great harvest, please join me in a toast to the good health of President and Mrs. Clinton, and to the everlasting friendship and prosperity of the peoples of the United States of America and the Republic of Korea. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

END8:55 P.M. EST