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Obama says Korea-U.S. alliance 'remains as strong as ever'

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama said Friday that the alliance between the United States and South Korea "remains as strong as ever" as he marked the anniversary of the armistice that ended the Korean War 61 years ago.

In a proclamation issued ahead of Sunday's anniversary, Obama also said South Korea's rise from the war's ashes is "not an accident." It shows that liberty and democracy "do not come easily," he said, adding, "We must win them, and tend to them constantly, and defend them without fail."

Obama said, "While carefully defending the peace won 61 years ago, the South Korean people have built an advanced, dynamic economy. Today, the alliance between the United States and the Republic of Korea -- forged in war and fortified by common ideals -- remains as strong as ever."

The United States fought alongside South Korea in the three-year war against invading troops from the Chinese-backed North. Almost 37,000 American troops lost their lives, more than 3,700 went missing and more than 92,000 were injured.

"Thanks to all who served and all who died, allied forces pushed invading armies back across the 38th parallel, and on July 27, 1953, they secured a hard-earned victory," Obama said. "We will never waiver in our commitment to fully account for the captured and the missing, nor will we ever stop striving to give our veterans the care and opportunities they have earned."

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