Obama vows closer South Korea ties

US president-elect pledges greater effort on North Korea and talks of fondness for kimchi.

    The US presidential election was closely watched by millions of South Koreans [Reuters]

    That has raised speculation Obama and Lee may meet on the sidelines of the Group of 20 financial summit scheduled for November 15 in Washington.

    Lee is already set to sit down with a group of Obama's foreign policy advisers in the US capital a day before the summit.

    "President Lee stressed the two countries should work closely together to maintain peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and in the region and to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue," Lee's spokesman said.

    Delays

    The US has almost 30,000 troops based alongside South Korean forces [GALLO/GETTY] 
    The US is South Korea's closest ally and has almost 30,000 troops based in the country to protect against any North Korean attack.

    However, the two countries have sometimes been at odds on how to handle the North, and in particular measures to rein-in its nuclear programme.

    The current US administration has been eager to secure an agreement on North Korean disarmament as a foreign policy success before George Bush leaves the White House.

    But the process has become bogged down in delays with accusations and counter-accusations from the US and North Korea that the other was not delivering on their side of the deal.

    North Korea has made no official comment on Obama's election, but his win has received a warm welcome in the South.

    During his conversation with the South Korean president Obama also reportedly expressed a fondness for Korean food, including kimchi, the pungent Korean speciality of pickled cabbage.

    "He said that bulgogi [marinated meat dish] and kimchi are his favourite things to eat for lunch," the South Korean presidential spokesman said.


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