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Diplomatic Achievements in the First Two Years of the Lee Myung-bak Administration

Two years have passed since the inception of the Lee Myung-bak administration, which began with the vision of becoming a "Global Korea." The administration has exerted efforts to raise Korea's standing in the world, pursue pragmatic foreign policies and lay the foundation for peace on the Korean peninsula. Over the past two years the Korean government has achieved much and will continue to proactively engage with the international community.

The Republic of Korea has won the honor to host and chair the G20 Summit in 2010. At a joint press conference with Canadian Prime Minister Steven Harper on September 25, 2009 at the Pittsburgh G20 Summit, President Lee Myung-bak announced the unanimous decision by the G20 leaders to have the Republic of Korea host the November 2010 meeting. This achievement reflects the international community's recognition of Korea's efforts and capability to become a major player in the global arena. The Korean government is working hard so that the G20 Seoul Summit can put forth solutions for pending global economic issues.

 ROK-Canada Joint Press Conference
at the G20 Summit in Pittsburgh, USA (September 25, 2009)

On November 25, 2009, Korea became the 24th member of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) with unanimous approval by all DAC member states at a special session held at the OECD Headquarters in Paris. DAC member states placed great significance on the accession of Korea, the only country that has turned from recipient to donor. The Korean government will continue to make good on its promise to increase its ODA to 0.25% of its gross national income by 2015 and also advance Korea's aid system to meet the DAC's standards.

The Lee Myung-bak administration has also engaged in active diplomacy to strengthen cooperative relations with other countries. The Korean government has worked to develop the ROK-US alliance into a forward-looking relationship which reflects challenges of the 21st century. President Lee held seven summits over the last two years with US President Obama and announced the "Joint Vision for the Alliance of the Republic of Korea and the United States of America" on June 16, 2009, in Washington DC. Korea joined the Visa Waiver Program in November 2008, allowing Koreans to visit the US without a visa for up to 90 days.  

President Lee Myung-bak and U.S. President Barack Obama
holding a joint press conference in the White House Rose Garden
following summit talks on June 16, 2009.

Korea is working closely with China and Japan through Korea-China-Japan Summits and Foreign Ministers' Meetings. The Korea-China-Japan Summit was first held in December 2008 in Fukuoka, Japan upon Korea's suggestion. Korea will continue to cooperate very closely with the two countries in areas such as the North Korean nuclear issue, economic cooperation, cultural and people-to-people exchanges.

2nd ROK-China-Japan Summit in Beijing, China (October 10, 2009)

  Efforts to strengthen ties with other Asian neighbors were also made in the past two years. In early March 2009, President Lee Myung-bak announced the "New Asia Initiative," which carries plans to enhance Korea's cooperation with neighboring Asian countries. The ASEAN-ROK Commemorative Summit was held on June 1-2 on Jeju Island, in Korea to commemorate the 20th anniversary of ROK-ASEAN relations. 

President Lee Myung-bak's opening remarks
at  the ASEAN-ROK Commemorative Summit on Jeju Island, Korea (June 1, 2009)

Given the Korean economy's heavy dependence on trade, Korea has diversified its FTA network through the ROK-EU FTA, ROK-India CEPA and ROK-ASEAN FTA. President Lee Myung-bak and Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeld welcomed the Free Trade Agreement reached between Korea and the EU after two years of negotiations in a joint press conference held in Stockholm in July 2009. The ROK-EU FTA will be formally signed in April 2010. Korea signed a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), which is substantially the same as an FTA, with India in August, 2009. The ROK-India CEPA took effect in January 2010. With the two trade agreements Korea has secured an enormous foreign market with a population of 1.7 billion.

President Lee Myung-bak and Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt
shake hands at a joint press conference in Stockholm, Sweden (July 13, 2009)

As the only divided nation remaining in the world, the Republic of Korea's ultimate hope is a peaceful unification with North Korea. The North Korean nuclear program is a serious detriment to peace on the Korean peninsula. As part of efforts to fundamentally resolve the North Korean nuclear issue, President Lee Myung-bak offered a "Grand Bargain" proposal in September 2009. The proposal guarantees security and economic aid from the international community in exchange for North Korea ending its nuclear program. Korea will continue to work with its partners to reopen the Six-party Talks and achieve stability on the Korean peninsula.

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