News / Asia

Obama Wraps Up South Korea Visit, Says US Will Not Hesitate to Defend Ally

U.S. President Barack Obama addresses U.S. military personnel at U.S. military base Yongsan Garrison in Seoul, South Korea, April 26, 2014.
U.S. President Barack Obama addresses U.S. military personnel at U.S. military base Yongsan Garrison in Seoul, South Korea, April 26, 2014.
VOA News
President Barack Obama has wrapped up a two-day visit to South Korea and is headed for the third stop in his four-nation tour, Malaysia -- the first visit by a sitting U.S. president since Lyndon Johnson traveled there in 1966.

Before his departure Saturday, Obama spoke to American troops stationed in Seoul, telling them that the United States "will not hesitate to use our military might to defend our allies and our way of life.'' The president's comment comes amid threats by North Korea to conduct its fourth nuclear test.

During a joint news conference with South Korean President Park Geun-hye in Seoul earlier Friday, Obama said Pyongyang will get nothing except further isolation if it proceeds with a nuclear test.

He added that America's commitment to South Korea will never waiver, and the U.S. and South Korea will stand "shoulder to shoulder" against North Korean provocation.

The South Korean leader said Obama's visit sends a firm message that North Korea's provocation will not be tolerated.

Obama also used the news conference to wade into a historical dispute that has strained relations between South Korea and Japan, which he also visited this week. He said Japan's war time use of so-called comfort women was shocking, but urged Seoul and Tokyo to look forward in their relationship.

The U.S. leader also expressed condolences to the families of the hundreds of children lost in last week's ferry accident.

Before Obama wrapped up a two-day visit to Japan earlier Friday, the two nations released a joint statement on security and trade. The countries said they share strong concern about China's air defense zone in the East China Sea, but reaffirmed interest in building productive ties with Beijing.

Following a Thursday meeting in Tokyo with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Obama explicitly stated the disputed Senkaku Islands fall under the treaty obliging the United States to defend Japan if attacked. Beijing also claims the islands, known as Diaoyu in China.

After Obama's Malaysia visit, his last stop will be the Philippines, which is also involved in a territorial standoff with China and has deepened its military cooperation with Washington as a result.

This is Obama's fifth visit to Asia since taking office in 2009. He has promised to make the Pacific region a greater economic, diplomatic and military priority for the United States.
  • President Barack Obama speaks to military troops at Fort Bonifacio, saying a new military pact signed with the Philippines on Monday, April 27 granting a larger presence for U.S. forces would bolster the region's maritime security, Manila, April 29, 2014.
  • President Barack Obama states during a joint news conference with President Benigno Aquino III, that a 10-year agreement signed Monday, April 27, will give the U.S. military greater access to Philippine bases, helping to promote peace and stability in the region, Malacanang Palace, Manila, April 28, 2014. 

  • Police use a water cannon on "Bayan Muna" (My Country First) activists who tried to march to the U.S. embassy protesting President Barack Obama's visit, Manila April 29, 2014. 
  • The tail section of Air Force One is pictured on the tarmac at Elmendorf Air Force Base outside Anchorage, Alaska, as President Barack Obama stayed onboard during a refuel stop on his return to the United States from Asia, April 29, 2014. 
  • U.S. President Barack Obama waves to the media upon arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila, Philippines, April 28, 2014.
  • U.S. President Barack Obama, center, stands to speak as he attends a state dinner with Philippine President Benigno Aquino III at Malacanang Palace in Manila, Philippines, April 28, 2014.
  • Philippine activists pull barbed wire fence as they try to go near the Malacanang Palace during a rally to oppose the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement between the Philippines and U.S., Manila, Philippines, April 28, 2014.
  • An activist holds a protest sign near the Malacanang Palace in Manila, Philippines, April 28, 2014.
  • President Barack Obama is welcomed by South Korean President Park Geun-hye at the Blue House in Seoul, April 25, 2014.
  • President Barack Obama and Japan's Empress Michiko attend a welcome ceremony at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, April 24, 2014.
  • President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shake hands at the conclusion of their joint news conference at the Akasaka State Guest House in Tokyo, April 24, 2014.
  • President Barack Obama and ASIMO, an acronym for Advanced Step in Innovative MObility, bow to each other during a youth science event at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation in Tokyo, April 24, 2014.

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