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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Korean President Visits White House: Talks Trade Agreement

Just as Congress approved the World Trade Agreement (WTA), which the president plans to sign later this week, President Obama joined Republic of Korea president, Lee Myung-bak, today during a joint press conference in the East Room of the White House were President Obama  where President Obama said the WTA  is "a win for both our countries".

President Obama sits with President Lee in the Oval Office.  Photo/CD Brown.
"For our farmers and ranchers here in the United States, it will increase exports of agricultural products", said Obama.  "From aerospace to electronics, it will increase American manufacturing exports, including those produced by our small businesses.  It will open Korea’s lucrative services market, and I’m very pleased that it will help level the playing field for American automakers."
In summing up the benefits of the WTA, President Obama explained that it "will boost American exports by up to $11 billion and support some 70,000 American jobs.  It has groundbreaking protections for labor rights, the environment and intellectual property -- so that trade is free and fair."

Also near to the president's agenda, creating reusable energy sources and doubling American exports. 

"It will promote green jobs and clean energy, another area where we’re deepening our cooperation.  And it keeps us on track to achieve my goals of doubling American exports." 

Said President Lee on the occasion, "In particular, we welcome the ratification of the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement by the United States Congress.  I am confident that the Korea National Assembly will soon ratify this very important agreement in the near future."

President Lee joined Secretary of State Hilliary Clinton in a luncheon today where she remarked that the alliance between North Korea and the U.S. , “has never been stronger,”  and “the enduring partnership that we have built over decades of cooperation is a symbol of security, stability, peace and prosperity.”
The Obamas host Korean President Lee and wife.  Getty photo.

“President Lee’s vision for a global Korea is strengthening and deepening our relationship in new areas from peacekeeping to anti-piracy, from stemming climate change to ending nuclear proliferation,” Clinton said. 

The president, on the issue that "continues to pose a direct threat to the security of both nations,  further said of the agreement that, "Together, we've succeeded in changing the equation with the North, by showing that its provocations will be met not with rewards but with even stronger sanctions and isolation.  So the choice is clear for North Korea.  If Pyongyang  (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) continues to ignore its international obligations, it will invite even more pressure and isolation.  If the North abandons its quest for nuclear weapons and moves toward denuclearization, it will enjoy greater security and opportunity for its people.  That's the choice that North Korea faces." 

Table setting for State Dinner with Korea's President Kim.   Photo/CD Brown.
A state dinner is planned tonight for President Lee and First Lady Kim Yoon-ok.  Click here for dinner details.

Earlier in the day First Lady Michelle Obama invited Mrs. Kim to Annandale High School in Annandale, Virginia. Annandale is home to one of the largest Korean-American communities in the Washington area.

The visit also highlights the administration's tradition of extending the reach of the State Visit beyond the gates of the White House.

The event culminated with remarks by the First Lady and a musical performance featuring Korean-American violinist Jennifer Koh, the World Children’s Choir, and Annandale High School students.

On Friday, President Lee will travel with President Obama to Detroit where they will visit two automotive plants.

"As a former executive, President Lee will understand when I say that just as Americans buy Hyundais and Kias, I hope that South Koreans will buy more Fords, Chrysler"s and Chevys", said President Obama.

There have been five other previous Korean State Visits which include resident Roh Tae-woo (July 1-3, 1991); President Kim Yong-sam (July 25-28, 1995);  President Kim Dae-jung (June 8-11, 1998);  President Rhee Syngman (July 26-31, 1954) and President Park Chung-hee, (May 17-19, 1965).

Photos on the day.

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