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(LEAD) Lee says he shares common vision with Obama

All Headlines 17:46 November 05, 2008

(ATTN: UPDATES with Lee's message to Obama and Biden in paras 5-7)
By Yoo Cheong-mo

SEOUL, Nov. 5 (Yonhap) -- President Lee Myung-bak said Wednesday that he and U.S. president-elect Barack Obama have a common vision for new changes.

"President-elect Obama is calling for new changes in the United States. His vision looks just like that of my South Korean government," Lee was quoted by his spokesman as saying in a meeting with local foreign policy experts.

Lee met with a dozen private sector experts on foreign affairs to exchange views on security and the diplomatic outlook for the Korean Peninsula and other changes expected following Obama's election victory, according to presidential spokesman Lee Dong-kwan.

Earlier Wednesday, President Lee sent a congratulatory message to both Obama and his running-mate, Joe Biden, and expressed hope for further development of bilateral relations between South Korea and the U.S.

"I strongly believe in partnership. When you were stressing new U.S. partnership relations in Asia during your campaign period, I felt our thoughts are similar. Closer cooperation between the two countries will help enhance global peace and security," President Lee said in the message to Obama.

"Now the entire world is undergoing a financial crisis, raising the need for stronger international cooperation and coordination. In this sense, I'm convinced I and you share the same thinking. My government will fully cooperate with your government and other partners in overcoming the financial crisis," the president said.

In a separate message to Biden, President Lee thanked him for having made various contributions to safeguarding the South Korea-U.S. alliance, including his support for the recent inclusion of South Korea into the U.S. visa waiver program.

Spokesman Lee said the private experts have asked President Lee to pay greater attention to holding closer bilateral policy consultation to build up South Korea-U.S. cooperation while seeking to expand human networks and trust with the Obama camp.

Meanwhile, a top foreign policy adviser to President Lee said the South Korean government has ruled out the possibility of renegotiating the South Korea-U.S. free trade agreement (FTA) deal with the Obama administration.

"Obama's Democratic Party, supported by labor unions, had expressed its objection to the Korea-U.S. FTA during the presidential campaign. But we expect the FTA issue to be resolved smoothly in the end," said the adviser in his meeting with reporters.

"What is important is for the South Korean parliament to ratify the Korea-U.S. FTA deal ahead of the U.S. Congress."


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