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Lee calls on parliamentary committee to endorse FTA with U.S.

All Headlines 15:25 June 22, 2011

SEOUL, June 22 (Yonhap) -- President Lee Myung-bak appealed to members of the parliamentary foreign affairs committee Wednesday to endorse the free trade agreement with the United States as the government gears up efforts to have the long-pending deal ratified.

Only ruling Grand National Party members of the committee attended the lunch meeting with Lee as their main opposition Democratic Party counterparts boycotted the event saying the issue should first be discussed at a meeting between Lee and DP leader Sohn Hak-kyu set for next Monday.

"I was grateful for passing the Korea-EU FTA last time," Lee told the meeting, referring to parliament's ratification in May of the trade pact with the European Union, according to senior presidential spokesman Kim Du-woo. "I ask for efforts for the ratification of the Korea-U.S. FTA as well."

Rep. Nam Kyung-pil, chairman of the committee, said that he would make best efforts to pass the FTA with the U.S. through negotiations between the ruling and opposition parties, according to the spokesman.

Nam said that South Korea is considered a "hub" of FTAs and many countries want to conclude free trade deals with the country, as it is the only Asian nation to sign such trade pacts with both the U.S. and the EU.

The trade deal, signed in 2007 and supplemented last December, has been awaiting approval from the legislatures of the two countries. The DP has been calling for renegotiating the deal, saying the pact favors the U.S.


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