- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 23, 2003

WASHINGTON, Jan. 23 (UPI) — The new special envoy to the United States for South Korean President-elect Roh Moo-hyun said Thursday that his country's incoming leadership is dedicated to a continued strengthening in the relationship between the two long-time allies.

"We strongly believe that we have to get together, just like in the past, in the future," Yoo Jay-kun said Thursday at a conference examining the 50th anniversary of the U.S.-South Korea alliance. "Whenever Korea has trouble, America was always a best friend that really cared and helped us."

The event was held at the Johns Hopkins Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies and co-sponsored by the Korean-language Chosun Daily newspaper.

Yoo said that Roh is working on his transition into office and will be inaugurated Feb. 25. He also noted that the incoming president, who replaces Kim Dae-jung, would visit President Bush in Washington, at Bush's request, soon after officially becoming president.

Roh and his ruling Millennium Democratic Party are expected to receive a tough fight against its policy agenda from the opposition Grand National Party that controls the Republic of Korea National Assembly.

Although Yoo, who is also a member of the National Assembly, refused to speak in any detail about the conflict with North Korea over its nuclear weapons program, he said that the nuclear threat posed by the ROK's northern neighbor is a "dark cloud" that continues to fly over the nation.

"I can not over emphasize the importance of the subject of this forum, especially when you consider the imminent danger we find ourselves today," Yoo said.

He said any solution to the problem must be developed in close consultation with the United States, which remains an indispensable part of Korea's national security.

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