South Korean President to Visit White House in October

Posted September 13th, 2011 at 9:25 pm (UTC-5)
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The White House announced Tuesday that South Korean President Lee Myung-bak will meet with U.S. President Barack Obama on October 13 in Washington.

An official statement says the two leaders will discuss a range of economic and security issues during the meeting at the White House. They will also review progress toward a U.S.-South Korea free trade agreement.

The statement says the visit will highlight the strong alliance, the global partnership, and the deep economic ties between the United States and the Republic of Korea. It will also celebrate the strong bonds of friendship between the American and Korean people.

Later in the day, President Obama and his wife Michelle Obama are to host Mr. Lee and his wife at a formal White House state dinner.

U.S. lawmakers have urged Mr. Obama to send the U.S. -South Korea free-trade agreement and similar deals with Panama and Colombia to Congress for approval. Under the agreement reached with Seoul in 2007, nearly 95 percent of bilateral trade in consumer and industrial products would become duty free within three years of the date the agreement comes into force. The increased trade is expected to add up to $12 billion to annual U.S. gross domestic product.

The security situation on the Korean peninsula is sure to be discussed during President Lee's visit. After a period of high tensions between North and South Korea, the communist leadership in Pyongyang has signaled it is ready to return to six-nation talks on North Korea's nuclear disarmament in exchange for aid.

South Korea and the other parties in the talks, including the United States, Russia, China, Japan, want evidence that North Korea is serious about denuclearization.