South Korean President Lee Myung-bak personally thanked Congress on Thursday for ratifying a long-awaited free trade agreement between the U.S. and his country the day before, saying the deal strengthened what already was “one of the closest, most important economic relationships in the world.”
“This agreement is a major step toward future growth and job creation. It is a win for our corporations. This is a win for our workers.”
He added he was grateful for the “swift” ratification of the deal, which initially was signed by former President George W. Bush in 2007 but which stalled for years over Democratic concerns related to automobiles and U.S. beef exports.
It is the largest pact the U.S. has ratified since the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994.
Mr. Lee spent much of his 38-minute Capitol Hill speech hailing joint U.S. and South Korean interests in capitalism and freedom. And he described how his country rose from a poor, underdeveloped region in the aftermath of the Korean War about 60 years ago to become a major world economic power.
“We invest in you, and you invest in us, because we are interdependent,” he said. “When we trade together, we grow together.”
The South Korean president also reiterated his government’s long-held stance that North Korea abandon its nuclear ambitions, and called on the United States to continue pressing the rouge communist nation to “denuclearize.”
“North Korea’s development is in our collective interest,” he said. “However, this depends on its willingness to end all provocations and make genuine peace. We will work with you and the international community so that North Korea makes the right choice.”
“I recognize the reality that Korean has been split in two, but I will never accept it as a permanent condition,” he said.
Mr. Lee, a onetime Hyundai executive and a former mayor of Seoul, gave thanks to American veterans of the Korean War, personally thanking four members of the House who served in the conflict; Democratic Reps. John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, Charles B. Rangel of New York, and Republican Reps. Sam Johnson of Texas and Howard Coble of North Carolina.
The South Korean president also said he was grateful for the service of the more than 28,000 American military personal serving in his country.
“We want to thank you for keeping faith with the generation of your parents and grandparents, defending freedom on the Korea peninsula,” he said.
Mr. Lee, who arrived in Washington on Tuesday for a five-day U.S. visit, will attend a state dinner Thursday evening. He and President Obama are scheduled to travel to Michigan Friday to tour a General Motors Co. plant.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
Sean Lengell covers Congress and national politics and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Rand Paul
Obama acts as though we no longer have a Constitution
Independent voices from the TWT Communities
First over-the-counter column approved for fast and effective relief from even your worst media-induced headache.
Contributions to the Communities Sports desk from readers.
Happiness is attainable. Morning to night. I love to teach, deal with folks that have an issue and really wish to tackle it and write.
Benghazi: The anatomy of a scandal
Vietnam Memorial adds four names
Cinco de Mayo on the Mall
NRA kicks off annual convention
California wildfires wreak havoc