Park and the Queen to meet in Nov.President Park Geun-hye will be popping in on the Queen this year.
“On the invitation of Queen Elizabeth II, President Park will make a state visit to the United Kingdom from Nov. 5 to 7,” Blue House spokeswoman Kim Haing said on Wednesday in a press release. “The details of her itinerary are under negotiation.”
Britain sent the second-largest number of troops to the 1950-53 Korean War, following the United States. To mark the 130th anniversary of bilateral ties between the U.K. and Korea, the two leaders are expected to discuss a wide range of issues, including ways of making diplomatic relations more comprehensive and cooperative, as well as the nuclear threat from North Korea.
Park will be the second South Korean president to visit the country, following Roh Moo-hyun, who went in 2004.
The official invitation was sent on Tuesday, but the Queen had already made it clear that she wanted to meet Park through her first cousin, Prince Richard Alexander Walter George, according to a Blue House official.
“Two days after the presidential election, on Dec. 21, Britain expressed its willingness to invite the President of the United Arab Emirates in the first half of the year, and Park in the second,” the official said. “The Queen of the United Kingdom expressed her high expectations and welcomed the fact that the first female president has been elected in Northeast Asia.”
Park has history with Great Britain. She was invited to the country by the government in the mid-1990s before she entered the political arena.
“At the time, the British government predicted that Asia would have a woman leader in the 2000s, and Park was one of the candidates they picked,” said Park Yeong-suk, then-public affairs official at the British Embassy in Korea, who was in charge of the visit.
“President Park is interested in various aspects of the United Kingdom including the development of the British democracy and its municipality, state management, diplomacy policies and economic system.”
After she won her first legislative seat in 1998, Park visited Britain twice, in August 1999 and April 2002.
Park has frequently mentioned Queen Elizabeth I and Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s first female prime minister, as her political role models.
When she ran in the Grand National Party presidential primary in 2007, she said she wished to cure the social problems of Korea, just as Thatcher did for the U.K. This year, when Thatcher passed away, Park said she “feels sorry for the loss of a great leader.”
During her campaign in August 2012, she expressed her admiration for the first Queen Elizabeth, “who grew up in troubled situations but endured conspiracies and plots to become a considerate leader.”
During her visit to Britain in November, Park will stay in Buckingham Palace and attend luncheons hosted by Queen Elizabeth II. She is also expected to be given a welcoming ceremony and a ride on the Gold State Coach, a horse-drawn carriage used by the royal family.
BY KANG TAE-HWA [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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