After a mad dash to set up the arrival ceremony, President Obama officially welcomed President Lee Myung-bak of South Korea to the United States today, reaffirming their strong partnership and praising the newly passed trade agreement between the two countries.
“Today we celebrate an alliance rooted in the shared values of our people — our service members, who have fought and bled and died together for our freedom; our students and workers and entrepreneurs, who work together to create opportunity and prosperity; and our families, bound by the generations, including many who are here today, proud and patriotic Korean-Americans,” Obama said as he stood underneath a gigantic black umbrella, addressing an increasingly soggy crowd.
The morning after Congress passed a long-delayed trade agreement with South Korea, both leaders commended the deal, saying it will help create jobs in their countries. Obama said the agreement, which was passed alongside pacts with Columbia and Panama, will “bring our nations even closer” and preserve “our edge as two of the most dynamic economies in the world.”
Lee agreed. “This historic achievement will open up a new chapter in our relationship. … This agreement will create more jobs. It will expand mutual investments into both of our countries. It will become a new engine of growth that will propel our economies forward. Ladies and gentlemen, it will be a win for both of our countries.”
Obama said Lee’s visit marks “a new chapter” in their relationship because “in South Korea, the United States has a global partner that is embracing the responsibilities of leadership in the 21st century.”
“We will go together investing in our societies and the education and skills of our people. We will go together reaffirming that [the] alliance between the United States and the Republic of Korea is unbreakable,” Obama said. ”And we will go together as we partner to meet our global responsibilities so that our citizens and people around the world may live in security and prosperity.”