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(LEAD) Obama vows to work closely with Park Geun-hye
By Lee Chi-dong
WASHINGTON, Dec. 19 (Yonhap) -- U.S. President Barack Obama said Wednesday that he would work closely with President-elect Park Geun-hye of South Korea on issues of mutual concern.

   "I look forward to working closely with the Park administration to further enhance our extensive cooperation with the Republic of Korea on a wide range of important bilateral, regional and global issues," Obama said in his congratulatory message.

   Hours earlier, Park of the conservative ruling party was declared the winner of South Korea's presidential elections. She will begin her five-year term in February.

   Obama took note of the significance of the Washington-Seoul alliance.

   "The U.S.-ROK alliance serves as a linchpin of peace and security in the Asia Pacific and our two nations share a global partnership with deep economic, security, and people-to-people ties," he said in the statement released by the White House.

   Obama also expressed gratitude to the outgoing president, Lee Myung-bak.

   "I also wish to reiterate my admiration for all that President Lee has done to strengthen U.S.-ROK relations and promote a Global Korea," he said.

   U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), incoming chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, also said he hopes for joint efforts to move the alliance forward.

   "South Korea is a critical ally and one of America's closest trading partners," he said. "I look forward to working with President-elect Park's government to move our relationship ahead -- promoting international peace and security, economic prosperity, and human rights."

   lcd@yna.co.kr
leechidong@gmail.com
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