S. Korea to 'restore' relations with U.S.

Posted on : 2008-03-11 18:58 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST

South Korea's new government on Tuesday laid out a foreign policy blueprint revolving around plans to "restore" its alliance with the United States and pursue an aggressive energy diplomacy.

In a policy report to President Lee Myung-bak, the Foreign Ministry also said it will form a new East Asian partnership with China, Japan, Russia, India, Australia, and ASEAN.

"Much of the report session was allocated to discussions on how to beef up energy diplomacy," Deputy Foreign Minister Shim Yoon-joe told reporters.

President Lee, a former construction CEO, actively took part in the longer-than-scheduled discussions on the issue, he added.

Lee has emphasized that diplomats should play a greater role in securing stable energy resources as a way of helping revive the economy.

The ministry said its top goal in the national security field is to "restore South Korea-U.S. relations and facilitate the process of resolving the North Korean nuclear issue."

Reporters questioned whether the use of the word "restore" means the ministry formally admits reported problems in the time-honored alliance under the previous liberal South Korean government.

Conservatives here and in the U.S. say the two allies had seen frequent rifts over former President Roh Moo-hyun's drive for increased independence from Washington and differences over how to deal with North Korea.

"The South Korea-U.S. alliance has developed for half a century.

But there was some insufficient aspects to recent relations," Shim said. "The word 'restore' means shifting to a trend to develop and improve the alliance further."

He indicated that the leaders of the two nations will focus on the matter in their first summit next month. The ministry cited the need for speedy parliamentary ratification of the free trade agreement signed last year between Seoul and Washington.

"It is also important for South Korea to join the U.S. Visa Waiver Program (VWP)," Shim said. The VWP will allow South Koreans to make a visa-free trip to the U.S. for up to 90 days.

On relations with Japan, the ministry reaffirmed a plan to resume the holding of regular summits between the neighboring nations to strengthen ties.

South Korea plans to form a triangular consultative body with the U.S. and Japan to handle the North Korean issue and other global concerns, Shim said.

The ministry also plans to step up cooperation with China, which has considerable political leverage over North Korea and has also emerged as the South's largest trading partner.

South Korea aims to increase mutual trading volume to US$200 billion within a few years.

Expanding economic cooperation with Russia, South Korea will focus on the trade of natural resources and joint development of the East Siberian region.

South Korea plans to gradually increase the ratio of Official Development Assistance (ODA) to the Gross National Income (GNI) from the current 0.1 percent.
SEOUL, March 11 (Yonhap)

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