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South Korea and the U.S.
Published September 3, 2013
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The U.S.-South Korea alliance has flourished under Presidents Obama and Lee Myungbak. It is difficult to find words of criticism for the alliance in either Washington or Seoul as Obama starts his second term and Park Geun-hye begins her administration. Both presidents reaffirmed their respective commitments to policy coordination toward North Korea and issued a joint statement on the sixtieth anniversary of the establishment of the alliance during Park’s first meeting with Obama at the White House. The statement underscored a commitment to broaden alliance functions beyond the peninsula, reaffirming commitments to a comprehensive alliance first announced by Obama and Lee in May 2009.1 Park and Obama also recognized the first anniversary of the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA), which institutionalized another pillar of cooperation. These two agreements represent an expansion beyond extraordinarily close policy and security coordination toward North Korea, which has traditionally provided the main rationale for security cooperation. Basking in the glow of relations that may never have looked better, officials on both sides might be tempted to feel complacent, but concerns have been growing that difficult tests lie just over the horizon.

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