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S. Korea, U.S. specialists launch study on bilateral ties

All Headlines 09:49 December 23, 2007

WASHINGTON, Dec. 22 (Yonhap) -- Prominent South Korean and U.S. officials and scholars have or will soon establish groups to take a new look at their countries' relations and make policy recommendations on how those relations should be shaped in the future.

At least two groups are involved in the process, with one of them ready to produce a report early next year.

Another group, to be launched within weeks, will provide policy recommendations to the U.S. presidential candidates on Korea policy and also collect them in a report to be given to the next U.S. administration that takes office in 2009.

These studies take place as new governments are about to take power in Seoul and Washington. In South Korea, former Hyundai CEO Lee Myung-bak will be sworn in on Feb. 25. In the U.S., the new president will take over in early 2009.

Lee's election signals a conservative turn in South Korea, whose past and incumbent administrations are considered left of center. South Korea's relations with the U.S. have been challenged by, among other things, the North Korea nuclear issue, the transformation of the military alliance and the conclusion of a free trade agreement.

The work by a "wisemen's group," made of people from both South Korea and the U.S., has been in progress for a couple of years, according to Evans Revere, a former diplomat and now the president of the New York-based Korea Society.

Along with Revere, John Ikenberry of Princeton University and Mitchell Reiss of the College of William and Mary are some of the members from the U.S. side. Moon Chung-in, a professor at Yonsei University and former presidential aide, is one of the members from the South Korean side.

This group is scheduled to produce a report "fairly early" next year, Revere said.

Another group, comprised of Americans only, will be established by the Korea Society in conjunction with Stanford University. It will be a nonpartisan team and will include Michael Armacost, a former ambassador and now professor at Stanford, and Jack Pritchard, previously U.S. policy coordinator on North Korea who currently heads the Korea Economic Institute in Washington.

"We will be taking a good hard look at the U.S.-ROK relationship and the aftermath of the election (in Seoul)," Revere said. ROK stands for Republic of Korea, South Korea's official name.

The group will assess the current state of bilateral ties and provide recommendations to various U.S. presidential candidates "on a sensible policy toward the Korean Peninsula," he said.

"And then, we will distill those recommendations into a report to the next U.S. administration, providing some thoughts about a way forward to strengthen U.S. relations with the ROK."

ldm@yna.co.kr
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