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S. Korea's Lee embarks on Washington trip focused on trade

10-11-2011 15:36 BJT

SEOUL, Oct. 11 (Xinhua) -- South Korean President Lee Myung-bak left Tuesday for the United States on a state visit that is expected to focus on boosting two-way trade.

Lee's five-day visit will coincide with approval of a long- pending two-way trade agreement between Seoul and Washington by U. S. Congress, reportedly slated for the eve of summit talks between the two leaders on Thursday.

Lee is also scheduled to address a joint session of Congress later Thursday, the first South Korean leader to do so in 13 years.

"The most important agenda would include reaffirmation of the cohesion of the alliance, the free trade agreement and economic cooperation between the two countries," Seoul's foreign ministry spokesman Cho Byung-je told reporters in a press briefing.

The leaders would also "comprehensively discuss" the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's nuclear program, he added.

On Friday, Lee and Obama are scheduled to tour an auto plant in Detroit in a rare joint trip outside Washington that is believed to highlight perceived benefits of the U.S. endorsement of the free trade pact.

Signed in 2007, the bilateral free trade agreement met with domestic criticism in both countries, leading them to supplement the deal last December to fix the imbalance in auto trade.

Lee urged the parliament Monday to ratify the deal, which still faces resistance by opposition party lawmakers who believe it is lopsided in favor of Washington.

Editor:Wang Xiaomei |Source: Xinhua

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