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(LEAD) Seoul, Washington committed to democracy in elections: Lippert

All Headlines 12:26 April 12, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS more details in 8-9 paras and photos)

SEOUL, April 12 (Yonhap) -- U.S. Ambassador to Seoul Mark Lippert said Tuesday that Seoul and Washington are firmly committed to democracy through elections, as South Koreans are set to cast their ballots to elect new lawmakers this week.

"One of our key issues in bilateral relationship is our shared commitment to democracy in the elections," Lippert said in a congratulatory speech to mark the start of the 2016 Seoul International Forum on Elections held in Seoul.

South Koreans go to the polls Wednesday to elect 300 lawmakers for four-year terms, while the U.S presidential election is scheduled for November 2016.

Lippert said that the two countries will cooperate to improve electoral standards and reduce fraud in the election process.

The forum is co-hosted by South Korea's election watchdog, the National Election Commission (NEC), and the South Korea-led Association of World Election Bodies (A-WEB) and run for two days.

Among the attendees to the forum are Lippert, South Korean National Assembly Speaker Chung Ui-hwa, NEC Secretary General Kim Yong-hi, as well as officials from international election bodies from around the world, the NEC said.

"Your presence here is meaningful to our shared values and commitment and shared goals," the envoy said, noting election officials' commitment to making elections transparent and clean.

Speaker Chung also encouraged people to cast their ballot on Wednesday's polls, saying that the election is "the flower of democracy."

"Procedural legitimacy of the democracy can be achieved when the election is carried out in an impartial and free manner," Chung said in his congratulatory remarks.

On the first day, the attendees will discuss the role of citizens in improving democracy and how to inspire more women to be politicians, the commission said.

The participants will then visit polling stations in central Seoul on Wednesday to watch the voting and the vote-counting process, officials said.

A-WEB was first proposed by Seoul in 2011 and launched two years later with the participation of more than 102 countries. The organization aims to establish fair elections in developing nations by helping them build the necessary legal framework and infrastructure.

khj@yna.co.kr
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