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PacNet #25 – Obama-Park Summit a Critical Opportunity for the US-Korea Alliance

Hard on the heels of a pair of annual joint military exercises and the signing of a new defense cooperation agreement designed to ensure seamless allied coordination and credible deterrence toward North Korea, President Barack Obama will welcome newly elected President Park Geun-hye of South Korea to Washington May 6-8. Against a backdrop of escalating threats from North Korea to attack the United States, South Korea, and Japan with nuclear weapons, the first meeting between the two leaders will provide an opportunity to ensure that operational-level coordination does not fall victim to strategic-level misalignment. It also offers a chance to make critical operational changes to strengthen the alliance. To help ensure that the meeting gives President Park a sufficiently high profile to carry out the policy agreements reached at this session, the White House should consider the meeting a state visit, extending the new South Korean president the maximum possible diplomatic protocol and press attention.