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Lee, Obama welcome implementation of S. Korea-US FTA

(Xinhua)

14:05, March 15, 2012

SEOUL, March 15 (Xinhua) -- South Korean President Lee Myung- bak held telephone talks with his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama to celebrate the beginning of a long-delayed free trade agreement ( FTA) between the two countries, South Korea's presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said Thursday.

Lee said he expects that the implementation of the (South) Korea-U.S. FTA will contribute to enhancing the two countries' economic development and bilateral relations, according to Cheong Wa Dae.

He also said he believes the agreement will serve as a "good model" for global free trade and that he hopes it will achieve successful results.

Obama responded that he is pleased with the implementation of the deal, and stressed that it is a strong example of the two country's partnership, Cheong Wa Dae said.

The deal, which went into effect at midnight Wednesday, was ratified by the South Korean parliament in November last year despite vehement protests from opposition lawmakers. It was initially signed in 2007 and was renegotiated in 2010.

The two leaders also agreed to work closely for the upcoming Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul on March 26-27.

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