News / Asia

Trade, North Korea Among Topics in Obama, Lee Talks

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak speaks during a lunch hosted in Washington by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce,  Oct. 12, 2011
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak speaks during a lunch hosted in Washington by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Oct. 12, 2011

President Barack Obama welcomes South Korean President Lee Myung-bak to the White House on Thursday.  The visit comes as the U.S. Congress moved to approve a long-delayed U.S. - South Korea free trade agreement, and as both countries face ongoing challenges with North Korea.

From complex bilateral trade issues, to ongoing tensions with North Korea, the Obama-Lee relationship has endured major challenges during the past two years.

The United States stood strongly by its key East Asian ally against belligerent behavior by North Korea after the sinking of a South Korean warship, denied by Pyongyang, and the shelling of a South Korean island in 2010.

On trade, the two men weathered a difficult process of bilateral negotiations, and political obstacles. On the eve of Mr. Lee's visit, the U.S. Congress was on the verge of approving the U.S.-Korea free-trade deal with its benefits for increased trade and jobs.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney:

"It comes at a time that is really a high point in the bilateral relationship and in our alliance with South Korea," said Carney. "And it marks an alliance that has matured over the last two years into a partnership, building peace and prosperity globally."

National Security Council former director for Asian affairs, Victor Cha, who is now with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, says the two presidents have excellent personal chemistry.  More importantly, he says, President Lee has delivered on key aspects of Mr. Obama's global agenda.

"South Korea really sort of stepped up, which is part of Lee’s agenda for Korea to be more of a global player at a time when the United States wanted to see allies like Korea stepping up," said Cha.

Former senior director for Asian affairs at the National Security Council Michael Green agrees the visit reflects the importance Mr. Obama places on President Lee's leadership.

"I think that this is a relationship based on respect and the fact that Lee Myung-bak can deliver, but nevertheless, that counts for a lot, and you can see it in the protocol that surrounds this visit," said Green.

Thursday's pomp and circumstance will include a full White House ceremonial welcome, a joint news conference and state dinner.  President Lee will also address a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress.

Former assistant U.S. trade representative Meredith Broadbent says President Lee's White House provided a final push for the White House and Congress to finally end a deadlock on the Korea trade pact.

"The agreement between the U.S. and Korea is a win-win, state-of-the-art, sound commercial agreement that will put transparent rules in place, allow fairness and accountability for U.S. business in Korea, and get us back into the game of negotiating trade agreements, which our trading partners have been doing during these years that we have been more focused inward," said Broadbent.

The two presidents will also discuss North Korea, and a possible new round of bilateral talks with Pyongyang after President Lee's visit to Washington.  Again, Victor Cha of the Center for Strategic and International Studies:

"One of the main issues that the two leaders are going to want to talk about is how to contain this crisis and avoid more provocations by the DPRK [North Korea] even as they continue to put their nose to the grindstone and try to make more progress on the denuclearization aspect of the talks," he said.

On Friday, President Lee is to accompany President Obama on a visit to a General Motors assembly plant near Detroit, Michigan.

In promoting his job creation and innovation policies, President Obama has often used South Korea as an example of the kind of global economic competition the U.S. faces and the importance of a level playing field in trade.

The White House says the visit to the auto plant will highlight the Korea trade deal and the potential it creates for American companies to sell more of their products in foreign markets.

You May Like

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country 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.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid