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
TEXT SIZE - +

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

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Open Source Seeds Hit the Market, Raise Awareness

First open source seeds include 29 new varieties of broccoli, celery, kale, quinoa and other vegetables and grains 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid