Policy Brief - United States Institute of Peace

Mr. Lee Goes to Washington

| October 12, 2011

On the Issues

John Park, a senior program officer who directs USIP’s Korea Working Group, analyzes prospects for South Korean President Lee Myung-bak’s state visit to the United States October 13. A stalwart U.S. ally with increasing global reach, President Lee will be granted the rare privilege for a foreign head of state: addressing a joint session of Congress. Under the leadership of both presidents, the U.S.-South Korean alliance has been a key factor in preventing conflict on the Korean Peninsula by keeping a belligerent North Korea in check.

  • What's the significance of President Lee's state visit?
  • What's the state of the U.S.-South Korean alliance?
  • How are both allies currently dealing with North Korea?
  • How is USIP contributing to efforts to prevent conflict on the Korean Peninsula?

What's the significance of President Lee's state visit?

On the eve of entering the last year of a single five-year term, President Lee's address to Congress will not only mark the affirmation of the close security ties between two allies, but also the long-anticipated ratification of a landmark free trade agreement. In many respects, the state visit is intended to profile the major strides that both allies have achieved towards realizing the Joint Vision Statement that Presidents Obama and Lee unveiled in June 2009.

Amid setbacks and chronic challenges in almost every major region, Washington views South Korea as a linchpin on a global scale. From hosting the G20 summit in 2010 to preparing to host the next Nuclear Security Summit in 2012, South Korea has been establishing itself as a global partner in addressing common challenges, ranging from rebalancing the international economy to preventing the use of nuclear materials for terrorist attacks. For President Lee, the state visit is an important opportunity to demonstrate South Korea's unique role as a bridge between the developed and developing countries.

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For Academic Citation: Park, John S.. “Mr. Lee Goes to Washington.” Policy Brief, United States Institute of Peace, October 12, 2011.