President Bush To Meet With South Korea's President

By Jane Morse
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington - Trade and security issues will top the agenda when South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun visits President Bush at the White House September 14.

According to an August 16 press release from the White House, the presidents will review progress in relations since their last bilateral meeting, which took place in South Korea on the eve of the November 2005 Economic Leaders' Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum. 

Priority topics for the upcoming meeting in Washington will include negotiations on a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) and the Six-Party Talks on denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, which involve the United States, South Korea, North Korea, China, Japan and Russia.

“The two leaders will also discuss critical regional and global issues, including winning the war on terror, stopping the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and promoting an open international economic order,” the White House said.

At the completion of their November 17, 2005, summit meeting in South Korea's historic city of Gyeongju, Bush and Roh issued a joint declaration in which they reaffirmed the strength of the bilateral alliance and agreed that resolution of issues related to nuclear programs in North Korea is essential for establishing durable peace on the Korean Peninsula.  (See related article.)

In their declaration, the presidents stressed that "a nuclear-armed North Korea will not be tolerated" and called for a peaceful resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue through diplomatic means.  They urged North Korea to eliminate its nuclear weapons programs "promptly and verifiably."

They also expressed satisfaction with the "steady development" of relations between the United States and South Korea, noting force realignment agreements that will relocate and consolidate U.S. troops south of the Han River, including U.S. forces based at the Yongsan Garrison in the South Korean capital, Seoul.  

As part of their declaration, the presidents agreed to launch a ministerial-level strategic dialogue, the Strategic Consultation for Allied Partnership (SCAP), for consultations on bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest.

The two countries first announced plans to open talks on a comprehensive bilateral FTA to remove tariff and nontariff barriers and expand trade between their countries in February. (See related article.)

Before coming to the United States, Roh will visit Greece, Romania and Finland, according to the official English-language Web site of the South Korean government.

While in Finland, which holds the rotational presidency of the European Union, he will attend the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) taking place in Helsinki, September 10-11.

For additional information, see The U.S. and the Korean Peninsula.

See also "Bush, Roh Emphasize Unified Stance on North Korea.”