President Park Geun-hye will deliver a speech at a joint session of the U.S. Congress during a visit to Washington next month for a summit with
President Barack Obama, her office announced Tuesday.
The address, set for May 8 local time, comes only one year and a half after her predecessor Lee Myung-bak also addressed a joint meeting of the Senate and the House of Representatives during a state visit in October 2011.
Park took office in February for a single five-year term. It would be the first time since 1945 for leaders of the same country to address a joint U.S. congressional session in a row, the office said. Lee was the last foreign leader to deliver such an address, it said.
What is also unusual is that Park was invited to make the speech even though the upcoming trip is an "official working visit," not a state visit, presidential officials said. South Korean leaders have usually delivered such addresses during state visits.
Park plans to visit the United States from May 5-10. She is scheduled to first stop in New York on May 5 before heading to Washington the following day for a summit with Obama at the White House on May 7. On the way home, she will stop in Los Angeles.
The U.S. Congress is believed to have invited Park to speak, considering "the importance of the Korea-U.S. alliance that marks the 60th anniversary this year and the significance of Park's visit to the U.S. as the first female president in Northeast Asia," the office said.
"It also reflects the closeness of the Korea-U.S. alliance
relationship," it said.
In the speech, Park plans to touch on the 60 years of the alliance, outline how much South Korea has developed in political, economic, social and cultural aspects so far and put forward her visions about North Korea, peace and cooperation in Northeast Asia,
the alliance with the U.S. and other matters, the office said. Since 1874, foreign leaders and senior officials have addressed a joint U.S. congressional session 112 times. Park will be the sixth South Korean president to deliver such a speech after the country's founding President Syngman Rhee and former Presidents Roh Tae-woo, Kim Young-sam, Kim Dae-jung and Lee Myung-bak, the office said.(YONHAP)