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S Korean president kicks off visit to U.S., Japan
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12:44, April 15, 2008

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South Korean President Lee Myung-bak kicked off his first-ever overseas visit on Tuesday to the United States and Japan in a bid to improve Seoul's bilateral ties with the two allies.

"South Korea will further consolidate the traditional friendship with the United States, " said Lee before leaving for New York.

Lee, who took office on Feb. 25, is to arrive in New York on Tuesday and meet with U.S. business leaders at a road show and visit the New York Stock Exchange.

He will also meet with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and agroup of Korean Americans before heading to Washington D.C. on Wednesday.

During his stay in Washington, Lee plans to meet separately with U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab, a group of U.S. experts on the Korean Peninsula and U.S. lawmakers.

Lee will meet with U.S. President George W. Bush at Camp David on Saturday, the South Korean Presidential Office said.

Lee is expected to discuss a long list of bilateral and international issues, including the nuclear issues on the Korean Peninsula, burden-sharing for the realignment of U.S. Forces Korea, the U.S. proposal for the redeployment of South Korean forces to Afghanistan, ratification of a bilateral free trade agreement by the countries' respective legislative bodies and environmental, climate and energy problems.

After the visit to the United States, Lee will go to Japan on Sunday and hold a summit with Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda next Monday, the South Korean Presidential Office said.


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