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PacNet #44 – Lee-Obama Summit: Solidifying a Joint Approach toward Pyongyang

The upcoming Washington summit meeting between ROK President Lee Myung-bak and U.S. President Barrack Obama provides a golden opportunity for the two allies to send an important message to North Korea, to their other Six-Party Talks interlocutors, and to domestic constituencies in both countries regarding how best to deal with the ongoing North Korean nuclear crisis. There are other key items on their agenda, of course, including the articulation of a joint vision statement to take the U.S.-ROK alliance into the 21st century and the development of a joint approach to spur recovery from the global economic crisis, with an emphasis on how the agreed upon (by previous administrations in both countries) but not yet ratified Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement will help in this regard. But nothing is more important at this stage, in light of continued North Korea provocation, than sending a clear and unequivocal signal that Seoul and Washington are in lock step when it comes to dealing with Pyongyang.