''New Beginnings'' in the U.S.-ROK Alliance: Recommendations to the Obama Administration

In these uncertain times, the new Obama administration has an important opportunity to transform our vitally important alliance with the Republic of Korea (ROK, or South Korea) into a broader and deeper regional and even global partnership. South Korean President Lee Myung- bak is committed to the concept, and he has four more years in office to work with President Obama on it. The South Korean public also feels considerable goodwill toward President Obama. South Korea is key to American interests in dealing with North Korea and China, and, as the world’s thirteenth-largest economy, it is a factor in all regions of the world.

The group's observations and recommendations on key U.S.-ROK issues:

  • North Korea: The United States should consider bilateral talks with North Korea to explore whether a new mix of inducements and pressures might achieve U.S. and South Korean goals. Close coordination with the ROK and Japan is essential.
  • Military Cooperation: The United States should fully implement the Bush administration initiatives to realign U.S. Forces Korea and transfer wartime operational control of South Korean forces to the ROK as scheduled in 2012.
  • Economic Cooperation: Congress needs to approve in a timely manner the bilateral free trade agreement with South Korea (KORUS FTA).