Obama meets with S Korean president for summit

Updated: 2009-11-19 11:45

SEOUL: South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said Thursday he and his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama held close consultations and reached agreements on various issues, such as South Korea-U.S. alliance, the DPRK's nuclear issue, the pending bilateral FTA, and other global issues.

Obama meets with S Korean president for summit
US President Barack Obama and South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak take part in a welcoming ceremony at the Blue House in Seoul, November 19, 2009. [Agencies]

The two leaders, in particular, agreed to move forward on the FTA and to stick to the Lee-proposed 'grand bargain,' on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)'s nuclear issue.

"Today, we held more in-depth, meaningful dialogue than ever," Lee said at a joint press conference after the bilateral summit.

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"In addition, we agreed to keep discussing on concrete measures to further develop bilateral ties, confirming that the two countries are having 'the best' relationship at the moment," Lee added.

According to Lee, two leaders reaffirmed the two nations' strong joint security system, including the nuclear umbrella and nonproliferation, and vowed to develop the two-nation alliance by fully implementing "the Joint Vision for the Alliance of the Republic of Korea and the United States," signed last June at their second summit in Washington.

With respect to the issue of the pending bilateral FTA, Lee said "President Obama and I reaffirmed the economic, strategic importance of the South Korea-U.S. FTA, and we agreed to move forward on the deal together."

"We have completely agreed on the need of the 'grand bargain,' which I had earlier proposed, to resolve the DPRK's nuclear issue, and we will closely work on the detailed measures and agenda," Lee also said.

"With respect to the DPRK and its nuclear program, we reiterated our firm stances over the DPRK's complete, verifiable denuclearization through the six-party talks," Lee said, adding that they expressed contents over close cooperation at the moment.

The grand bargain proposal refers to a plan, which calls on the DPRK to abandon its nuclear programs "in a single step," in return for security, diplomatic and economic incentives.

Obama echoed Lee's remarks, saying they both agreed on "the need to break the pattern that has existed in the past, in which North Korea (DPRK) behaves in a provocative fashion and then returns to talks for a while and then leave the talks seeking further concessions."

The two leaders also called for the DPRK's return to the six- party talks as early as possible and promised to closely cooperate with other members of the talks, said Lee.

President Obama also told reporters that Stephen Bosworth, special U.S. representative for North Korea policy, will visit Pyongyang on December 8 for bilateral talks.

Lee and Obama also shared views on global issues, such as the G- 20 summit, climate changes, green growth, nuclear nonproliferation, and antiterrorism, according to Lee.

In particular, the two summits discussed on Seoul's hosting the G-20 summit meeting in November, 2010, agreeing to cooperate on the event.

"As we appreciate Obama's efforts to build a denuclearized world, South Korea will participate in the nuclear security summit to be held next April," Lee said.

The press conference came after a one-on-one summit, which was extended from thirty minutes to an hour.

A prescheduled meeting among the two leaders and their key ministers, therefore, were canceled, local media reported.

The two leaders are to meet with the ministers at a luncheon hosted by the South Korean president, the media added.

After visiting a U.S. military base to meet with a group of American service members stationed here in the afternoon, Obama will head home, wrapping up his four-nation Asia tour.

The Lee-Obama meeting is the third of a kind since Obama's inauguration in February.

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