Obama and Lee sharing ‘close bond,’ says U.S.

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Obama and Lee sharing ‘close bond,’ says U.S.

WASHINGTON - A senior U.S. official revealed a “close bond” between U.S. President Barack Obama and President Lee Myung-bak while briefing the press on the itinerary of the U.S. president’s trip to Asia in November.

“There’s a close bond between the two presidents,” Jeff Bader, senior director for Asian affairs on the National Security Council, told reporters in a briefing room at the White House. “I think the two presidents clearly respect and like each other.”

Bader continued, “We’ve dramatically altered our relationship for the better with South Korea since January 2009 [when Obama was inaugurated]. We have consulted with them [Korea] intensively since day one, and there’s no daylight between us [the two countries].”

Bader also described the importance of next month’s G-20 Summit for Korea.

“It’s a noteworthy development in terms of Korean history,” he said. “This is kind of a coming out for South Korea on the global stage. President Lee has spoken about a global Korea - that was his phrase - and the G-20, I think, is an important watershed in the developments of this global Korea.”

A diplomatic source in Washington said Bader got a good impression when he attended the bilateral summit between Korea and the U.S. in 2009.

“After Jeff participated in the U.S.-Korea bilateral talks held in Toronto in June 2009, he was deeply moved by the two countries’ close diplomatic ties and said, ‘[I felt] the two countries were just like brothers [at the summit],’” the source said.

Obama is scheduled to visit Korea for two nights and three days from Nov. 10 to 12 to attend the G-20, after visiting Indonesia on Nov. 9. It has been a year since Obama made his first official visit to Korea in November 2009. President Obama will visit U.S. troops at Yongsan Garrison in Seoul.

“I think he [Obama] will have the opportunity to pay tribute to the extraordinary progress that the Republic of Korea has made in the 60 years since the beginning of the Korean War,” Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, said at the same briefing. “It’s one of the quite astonishing stories of the second half of the 20th century - the economic development of Korea and the development of its democracy, which of course is tied very closely to the strength of our alliance with them.”

By Kim Jung-wook, Kim Hee-jin [heejin@joongang.co.kr]
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