Cooperation and trustUnited States President-elect Barack Obama seems to have a firm recognition of the importance of Korea?U.S. relations. Obama, in response to congratulatory messages from foreign countries, made phone calls to the leaders of nine countries - Korea, Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Israel, Japan and Mexico.
During his phone conversation with President Lee Myung-bak, Obama reportedly said he seeks to further cement the already-firm Korea?U.S. ties. He noted that a strong alliance will serve as a foundation for establishing peace and prosperity in Asia, stressing that the two countries should jointly tackle the current global financial crisis and the North Korean nuclear issues through close cooperation. He also said he has great admiration for the Korean people.
It is fortunate that Obama appears to understand the fundamental importance of the Korea?U.S. alliance and diplomatic ties.
As former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said in his speech in Seoul yesterday, the unchanging truth in Korea?U.S. relations, despite the many ups and downs in the past, is that the two countries are inseparable.
It is only natural that a democratic country experiences changes in government policies as administrations change, but all these changes are based on an unwavering consensus that the Korea?U.S. alliance is highly beneficial to both countries.
The alliance may have more room to grow and be improved upon during Obama’s tenure, as he has long advocated multilateral diplomacy, emphasizing cooperation and joint efforts with the international community.
But such positive progress will not come without thorough preparation and intense efforts in advance. What’s most important at this point is to build trust.
The two countries share the goals of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, building peace in Northeast Asia and joint prosperity. They also share the view that the Korea?U.S. relationship should be upgraded to a stronger alliance that can also cooperate in broader global issues such as the environment, human rights and countering terrorism.
And the key to make such goals a reality is through cooperation, since it is impossible to achieve perfect cooperation without mutual trust.
If Seoul builds a solid trust with the incoming Obama administration, there will be no issues that the two countries will be unable to overcome, from North Korea policies to the free trade agreement.