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(LEAD) Park, Obama agree to cooperate to defuse Northeast Asian security crisis
SEOUL. Dec. 21 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President-elect Park Geun-hye and U.S. President Barack Obama held phone talks on Friday and agreed to take cooperative steps to deal with the Northeast Asian security crisis triggered by North Korea's rocket launch.

   The two discussed the matter when Obama made a congratulatory call to Park on her election as South Korea's new president in Wednesday's vote, according to officials at Park's ruling Saenuri Party.

   The Saenuri Party said in a press release, without going into details, that Park and Obama concurred on the need for South Korea and the United States to work together to handle North Korea's provocations and the security crisis in Northeast Asia.

   Both Seoul and Washington view the North's Dec. 12 rocket launch as a disguised test of missile technology, although Pyongyang has maintained that it has a right to carry out peaceful space development programs.


The two leaders also touched on the need to strengthen bilateral relations across the board, it said.

   Besides the rocket launch issue that is directly related to peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, the president-elect thanked Obama for issuing a statement on her election victory earlier in the week.

   She then congratulated the U.S. president on winning his second term in office in last month's U.S. presidential race.

   The 60-year-old daughter of late President Park Chung-hee, meanwhile, expressed her deep condolences over a deadly shooting tragedy at a school in Connecticut last week.

   The phone conversation comes a day after Park met with Sung Kim, the U.S. ambassador to Seoul. In the meeting, Park said she would like to meet the U.S. president to discuss in detail the future course of bilateral relations.

   Throughout her campaign, Park emphasized the importance of the long-standing U.S. alliance and its significance for South Korea. She made clear she will continue to strengthen ties with Washington in the future.

   In regards to the power transfer process, party officials said Park plans to limit her public appearances for the next couple of days to focus on selecting key members of the presidential transition team. Selection is closely watched as many of the team members will join the Cabinet or the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae. Park is scheduled to be sworn in on Feb. 25.

   Party insiders said that the newly elected chief executive wants to pick her first prime minister in January or early February at the latest. Once this process is complete, she will move to name the Cabinet based on recommendations made by the prime minister designate. In addition, Park will likely move to appoint key presidential aides including her chief of staff around the same time.

   Five years ago, incumbent President Lee Myung-bak announced the head of the transition team on Dec. 26, followed by a candidate for prime minister and chief of staff on Jan. 28 and Feb. 1 of 2008, respectively.

   Sources said that in light of the importance of these first appointments, the president-elect will take her time to carefully screen potential candidates.

   "The reason why the selection process is important is because picking the wrong person, who might receive flak for his or her behavior or may have been involved in past wrongdoing, could tarnish the image of her new presidency," a party watcher said.