Obama, South Korea's Lee to talk trade, North Korea strategy
Hosting Lee amid the pomp of a formal state visit, Obama is looking to underscore what is widely seen as a high point in the longtime alliance between Washington and Seoul as well as his ever-closer personal bond with the South Korean leader.The top item on the agenda will be the consummation of a U.S.-Korea trade pact, which is expected to help anchor the United States in the economically dynamic Asia Pacific region as it competes with an increasingly assertive China.Just hours after Lee’s arrival on Wednesday, Congress ratified the deal. It was the largest of three pending bilateral agreements, including pacts with Colombia and Panama, all passed in rapid succession.Obama — who sent the pacts to Capitol Hill nine days ago, four to five years after they were negotiated — hailed their passage as a “major win for American workers and businesses.” South Korea’s parliament is still debating the issue.Obama has touted the accords as a way to boost U.S. exports and create tens of thousands of jobs at home at a time when his 2012 re-election chances likely hinge on whether he can reduce an unemployment rate stuck above 9 percent. But some critics say the pacts will actually hurt U.S. employment.The deal between the United States and South Korea, the world’s largest and 14th largest economies, would be the biggest U.S. trade pact since the North American Free Trade Agreement went into effect nearly 18 years ago.NORTH KOREA ON THE AGENDALee has proved a reliable partner for Obama, lining up with U.S. policy on North Korea, Afghanistan and the G-20 summit aimed at stabilizing the world economy.But South Korea had chafed over U.S. delays getting the trade deal passed. It was signed under President George W. Bush in 2007 but until now remained stalled under Obama, partly due to renegotiation of auto provisions to get a better deal for U.S. car makers.Despite that, Lee — whose mandatory single term ends in early 2013 — has managed to build personal chemistry with a U.S. president known for a mostly detached diplomatic style.Obama has faced criticism in some foreign policy circles for failing to cultivate chummier ties with foreign leaders like his predecessors, Bush and Bill Clinton, did.Lee, who dined with Obama at a Korean restaurant outside Washington on Wednesday, will be feted on a rare state visit with a red-carpet arrival ceremony, a joint news conference, an address to Congress and an elegant White House dinner.Obama will then take him on Friday for a road trip to Detroit, home of the U.S. auto industry.In talks on Thursday, the two are also expected to try to keep a united front on North Korea’s disputed nuclear program.It is a stark reminder that Iran is not the only nuclear standoff that has continued to dog the Obama administration. Relations with Tehran are under new strain over U.S. accusations this week that Iranian officials backed an alleged plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington.Obama and Lee are likely to consider whether efforts to re-engage with Pyongyang are worth pursuing further.Seoul’s ties with the isolated North soured after Lee took office in 2008 with a pledge to link aid to progress in U.S.-led efforts to end North Korea’s nuclear programs.Ties between the two Koreas further deteriorated after the North’s deadly attacks on the South last year — the sinking of a South Korean warship and the shelling of an island.The provocations by the North, which walked away from six-country nuclear talks and conducted its second nuclear test in 2009, helped bring Washington and Seoul closer together.Recent conciliatory gestures by both Koreas have raised hopes for an opening to restart nuclear negotiations, but Seoul and Washington insist Pyongyang must first take concrete measures to disable its atomic facilities.
Obama: North Korea's choice is disarmament or isolation
Ties between the two Koreas have been frosty since Lee took office in 2008 and linked aid to progress on North Korean nuclear disarmament. They deteriorated further after the North’s deadly attacks on the South last year — the sinking of a South Korean warship and the shelling of an island.
South Korea's Lee in U.S. to talk trade, North Korea strategy
Lee has proved to be a reliable and enthusiastic U.S. ally, lining up with Washington on North Korea, Afghanistan and anti-piracy efforts in Somalia and hosting a G-20 summit aimed at stabilizing the world economy.”South Korea really sort of stepped up, which is part of Lee’s agenda for Korea to be more of a global player at a time when the United States wanted to see allies like Korea stepping up,” said Korea expert Victor Cha of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington.Lee’s sixth meeting with President Barack Obama since 2009 will feature a full state dinner on Thursday — following his address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress shortly after American lawmakers are expected to approve a bilateral free trade agreement that removes most tariffs between the two economies. South Korea’s parliament is also debating the pact.The Obama administration has said the trade pact signed in 2007 and modified last year will create thousands of U.S. jobs and double exports to South Korea in five years. Washington hopes the trade deal will build momentum for a wider Transpacific free trade arrangement.”The U.S.-Korea relationship now is about as strong as it’s been in a very long time, and the passage of the KORUS — the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement — is really significant not only in terms of strengthening U.S.-Korea security and economic ties, but its broader import or meaning for U.S. engagement in Asia,” said Michael Green, a CSIS Asia expert.RE-ENGAGING NORTH KOREAObama and Lee will visit Detroit, the home of the U.S. automobile industry, on Friday.The two presidents will also discuss ways to re-engage with North Korea. Seoul’s ties with Pyongyang soured after Lee took office in early 2008 with a pledge to link large-scale aid to progress in U.S.-led international efforts to end North Korea’s nuclear programs.Ties between the two Koreas further deteriorated following the North’s two deadly attacks on the South last year — the sinking of a South Korean warship and the shelling of an island near their contested maritime border.The provocations by the North, which walked away from six-country nuclear negotiations and conducted its second nuclear test in 2009, helped bring Washington and Seoul closer together.On North Korea, Lee told his parliament he would seek “principled dialogue” with Pyongyang while having “flexibility” — a position that departs from an earlier rigid stance insisting on full reciprocity from Pyongyang.”The government will make efforts to put inter-Korean relations on a normal footing and continue to prepare for peaceful unification.” said Lee, who also vowed to strengthen his country’s military to deter North Korea.Although Seoul’s outreach to Pyongyang has not borne any fruit, Cha and other analysts expect that the United States will also resume engagement with North Korea in the hopes of moderating the North’s behavior and ensuring the cooperation of the North’s ally China in future regional disarmament talks.”The longer that you do not engage with (North Korea), the more likely it is that they will carry out another provocation, whether that is a nuclear test or whether that is an armed conventional provocation against the South again,” said Cha.
Li Keqiang, The Two Koreas To Visit Next Week ! http://newish.info/104787-li-keqiang-the-two-koreas-to-visit-next-week
Thoughts about/to random parts of the world according to a 17 year old American girl who is nightblogging
- UK: Your television shows are the reason for 95% of my tears so screw you. Jk i love you let me join you my bags are packed i can probably swim over. Thanks for all 12 of your lovely actors with their wonderful cheekbones.
- Ireland: "WE ARE NOT THE FREAKING UK OK?" Also, guiness beer and Liam Neeson
- Italy: Pasta. Bread. Cheese. Wine. Pope. A lot of spitting while talking and hand gestures.
- France: Oui. Food to die for. Everyone is thin. Has no inhabitians about the human body. Oh and also hates my country.
- Germany: Needs to calm down. But also is apparently really nice. I'm getting mixed signals.
- Central and South America: Thanks to my Spanish 2/3 teacher, I know where all of your countries are better than which of my country's states is which. Also fútbol.
- Djibouti: My dad handed out goats to you. You're welcome.
- Australia: God bless your wonderful actors/actresses and thanks for your adorable vicious creatures. And I'm still not over Heath's death either
- New Zealand: Australia has essentially made you their Canada, I feel ya
- North Korea: You can't see this anyway
- South Korea: Dogs aren't as scary as you think.
- China: Cease your plans of taking over America please and thank you
- Switzerland: DO SOMETHING
- Canada: Thanks for letting us film Supernatural and Psych up there. Maple syrup, hockey, moose, eh.
- Czech Republic & Slovakia: Please get the band back together, your name was awesome
- Genovia: You're fictional, I realize, but other than the Star Spangled Banner, I only know your national anthem all the way through.
- Russia: I literally only know Olga's and Natasha's who have come from your country. We'll let you use the name Nancy if you want
- Sierra Leone: Slow clap for the prettiest country name ever
- India: My namesake, lets go ride elephants during the color festival together and wear your gorgeous clothes and be BFFs
- Pluto: I know you're not on Earth but I just wanted you to know that I still believe in you.
The Conflict Between The Two Koreas Reached Rome At The Hands Of “Poongsan” ! http://newish.info/150190-the-conflict-between-the-two-koreas-reached-rome-at-the-hands-of-poongsan
South Korea: The Shifting Sands of Security Policy
Seoul/Brussels | 1 Dec 2011
Although North Korea has offered unconditional dialogue since January, South Korea is maintaining a tough policy line towards the North as Seoul approaches a year of electoral campaign politics. The risk of conflict remains serious, particularly in the area near the Northern Limit Line (NLL), the military demarcation in the Yellow Sea.
South Korea: The Shifting Sands of Security Policy, the latest briefing from the International Crisis Group, warns that relations on the peninsula remain tense, especially around the NLL. The disputed maritime area remains a flashpoint that could spark new clashes, following the deadly incidents of 2010, the sinking of the South Korean ship Ch’ŏnan in March and the shelling of Yŏnp’yŏng Island in November. But the political atmosphere in the South is changing as it enters an election season, with the mood shifting towards a more conciliatory position, including renewed interest in pacifying the NLL.
“North-South relations have played a role in past polls: both sides have attempted to use insecurity to influence results”, says Daniel Pinkston, Crisis Group North East Asia Deputy Project Director. “Although voters tend to favour more hawkish policies at times of insecurity, the right in the South is facing the paradox that voters may blame President Lee’s tough line for the increased tensions”. Threat perceptions in the South are complex: much of the noise that emanates from the North is discounted, but a hard line from the South can raise anxieties.
Elections for the National Assembly will be held in April 2012 followed by the presidential poll in December. Public opinion seems to be swinging away from the ruling Grand National Party (GNP) and electoral victories by the Democratic Party (DP) or a leftist coalition could lead to significant changes in policy towards Pyongyang. However, even though the South Korean President has strong executive powers over national security and North Korea policy, future policy adjustments may be constrained by opposition control of the National Assembly.
Opposition victories and a radical shift in policy towards the North are far from certain. The deep rage that North Korea feels against Lee and his party raises the risk of a pre-election provocation. Another attack, a missile launch or a nuclear test would have a significant impact on the South and the region.
The rival claims over the NLL are unlikely to be solved in any easy or quick manner. A significant rethinking of security policy and engagement with the North, including greater efforts to develop solutions to the NLL issue, is needed. To gain public and political support in the South, any resolution of this problem will require a comprehensive agreement with issue linkage to ensure that South Koreans do not perceive it to be a simple territorial concession to the North.
“North Korea policy is not a prominent issue for the average voter unless a sudden and serious inter-Korean crisis emerges around the time of the elections”, says Robert Templer, Crisis Group’s Asia Program Director. “If a liberal candidate can gain broad public support and capture the presidential election, the implementation of the Yellow Sea peace zone initiative might be only a matter of time”. Whether this will succeed also depends on the North’s reaction, but as it is preparing for a power transfer to Kim Jŏng-ŭn, the possibilities are as broad as the uncertainties.
Read the full report here.