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

Photogallery Oxfam: Ebola Could Be 'Disaster of Our Generation'

Meanwhile, Fidel Castro, the former leader of Cuba, says the Caribbean island nation will 'gladly cooperate' with the US in the fight against Ebola in West Africa More

Multimedia Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

Refugees receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed More

India’s Ruling Nationalist Party Makes Gains in Regional Elections

Bharatiya Janata Party’s huge margin over its rivals puts it on course to form governments in the northern Haryana and western Maharashtra states 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.
Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fighti
X
Zana Omer
October 18, 2014 6:37 PM
The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.
Video

Video Church for Atheists Goes Global

Atheists, by definition, do not believe in God. So they should have no need of a church. But two years ago, a pair of British stand-up comedians decided to create one. Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans told the BBC they envisioned “something like church but without God". Their “Sunday Assembly” movement has grown from a single congregation in London to dozens of churches around the world. Reporter Mike Osborne visited with the members of a Sunday Assembly that now meets regularly in Nashville.
Video

Video Robot Locates Unexploded Underwater Mines

Many educators believe that hands-on experience is the best way to learn. Proving that the method works is a project developed by a group of students at the Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, New Jersey. They rose up to a challenge posted by the U.S. Department of Defense and successfully designed and built an underwater robot for locating submerged unexploded ordnance. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's JFK Hospital Reopens After Temporary Ebola Exposure

JFK Hospital is Liberia’s largest and one of its oldest medical facilities. The hospital had to close temporarily following the deaths of two leading doctors from Ebola. It is now getting back on its feet, with the maternity ward being the first section to reopen. Benno Muchler has more for VOA News from Monrovia.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Expose Generation Gap

Most of the tens of thousands of protesters in Hong Kong are students seeking democracy. Idealistic youths say while the older generation worries about the present, they are fighting for the territory's future. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Hong Kong.
Video

Video Liberians Living in US Struggle From Afar as Ebola Ravages Homeland

More than 8,000 Liberians live in New York City, more than in any other city outside of Liberia itself. As VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports, with the Ebola virus ravaging their homeland, there is no peace of mind for these New Yorkers.
Video

Video Kurds See War-Ravaged Kobani As Political, Emotional Heartland

Intense fighting is continuing between Islamic State militants -- also known as ISIS or ISIL -- and Kurdish forces around the Syrian town of Kobani, on the Turkish border. The U.S. said it carried out at least nine airstrikes against Islamic State positions Friday. Meanwhile the U.N. has warned that hundreds of civilians would be massacred if the town falls to the militants. Henry Ridgwell looks at the strategic significance of the city.

All About America

AppleAndroid