Obama, S.Korean leader-elect pledge cooperation

Posted at 12/22/2012 9:10 AM | Updated as of 12/22/2012 9:10 AM

South Korea's President-elect Park Geun-hye talks on the phone with U.S. President Barack Obama at her office in Seoul December 21, 2012. REUTERS

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama and South Korea's President-elect Park Geun-Hye promised to cooperate closely including over tensions with North Korea, the White House said Friday.

Obama spoke to Park by telephone Thursday evening to offer congratulations after the conservative ruling party candidate and daughter of a former dictator won election as the first female head of state in Northeast Asia.

"Both sides reaffirmed the importance of the US-ROK alliance as a linchpin of peace and security on the Korean peninsula and in the Asia-Pacific region," a White House statement said, using the South's official name, the Republic of Korea.

"They agreed on the need for continued close cooperation on a range of regional and global security issues, including North Korea," it said.

North Korea launched a rocket the week before South Korea's election, successfully putting a small satellite into orbit. US, South Korean and Japanese officials fear that the rocket, which splashed east of the Philippines, is part of development of a long-range ballistic missile.

Obama in his first term largely gave up on trying to influence North Korea. Park has said that she will explore new ways of reaching out to the communist state.

Obama forged a close relationship with outgoing President Lee Myung-Bak, who took a hard line on North Korea. Lee has been a resolute supporter of the alliance between the United States and South Korea after friction under the previous administrations in the two countries.

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