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New U.S. envoy notes Lee’s optimism on FTA

The new top U.S. envoy to South Korea, Sung Kim, paid his first visit to Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan on Tuesday after taking office.

The first Korean-born U.S. ambassador to Seoul expressed anticipation for the passage of the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement at the National Assembly.

“There’s great anticipation on passage of the FTA,” the ambassador said in response to the foreign minister’s comments that Lee was at the National Assembly to seek parliamentary approval of the agreement.
Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Kim Sung-hwan (left) greets U.S. Ambassador to Korea Sung Kim, who visited the minister in Seoul on Tuesday afternoon. (Yonhap News)
Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Kim Sung-hwan (left) greets U.S. Ambassador to Korea Sung Kim, who visited the minister in Seoul on Tuesday afternoon. (Yonhap News)

The career diplomat with expertise in North Korean nuclear issues arrived in Seoul last week.

The foreign minister told the ambassador that his presence in Seoul will be “a kind of symbol of the close relationship between the two countries.”

“It’s really a tremendous honor for me to be here,” the ambassador replied.

Sung Kim was the top U.S. negotiator at the six-party talks on ending North Korea’s nuclear weapons programs.

The six-nation talks involving the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Russia and Japan have been stalled since April 2009 when the North quit the negotiating table and conducted its second nuclear test a month later.

The ambassador moved to the U.S. in the 1970s before obtaining U.S. citizenship in 1980. He has built much of his career working on the Seoul-Washington alliance and North Korean nuclear issues.

By Kim Yoon-mi (yoonmi@heraldcorp.com)
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