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Lee, Obama celebrate FTA implementation

All Headlines 08:40 March 15, 2012

SEOUL, March 15 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and U.S. President Barack Obama celebrated the implementation of a landmark free trade agreement between the two countries Thursday, saying it will serve as a good model for global free trade and boost the alliance between the sides.

The pact, first signed in 2007 and modified in 2010, came into force as of midnight Wednesday. Lee and other officials in Seoul have said the deal will boost exports, create jobs and further strengthen the traditional alliance with Washington.

On Thursday morning, Lee and Obama held a telephone conversation to celebrate the implementation of an agreement that they said will contribute to promoting free trade around the world and to upgrading the relations between the two countries.

"I expect the implementation of the Korea-U.S. FTA will contribute to advancing economic development and strengthening relations of the two countries," Lee said during the conversation, praising Obama for his efforts to get the pact into effect, according to presidential spokesman Park Jeong-ha.

Lee also said he believes the agreement will serve as a "good model" for global free trade and that he hopes it will turn out to be successful. Lee also said the U.S. economy is gradually recovering and jobs are increasing, adding that it is a good sign not only for the U.S. but also for the world economy.

Obama said he is pleased with the implementation, which he said is important to the people and the alliance of the two countries. Obama also said he expects the deal will boost investment, trade, exports and jobs in both nations and contribute to tearing down trade barriers around the world, according to Park.

Obama also said he is looking forward to meeting with Lee later this month when he visits Seoul to attend the second Nuclear Security Summit set for March 26-27. Lee and Obama are expected to hold a bilateral summit meeting on its sidelines.

Through a successful nuclear summit, Obama said he hopes to work closely together to prevent nuclear terrorism and that he also expects to hold in-depth talks with Lee about the situation in Northeast Asia, including issues related to North Korea, according to the spokesman.

Lee praised Obama for his initiatives to create the nuclear summit, saying that the biennial gathering of global leaders is highly meaningful in world history.

jschang@yna.co.kr
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