President Park Geun-hye has said that South Korea is a reliable partner of the United States, calling their alliance a linchpin of Washington's strategy of rebalancing toward the Asia-Pacific region.
"South Korea and the U.S. are strongly bound to each other by common values and ideals of freedom, democracy and human rights," Park said Wednesday at a South Korea-U.S. friendship gathering in Washington.
Park said the dynamic and evolving alliance between South Korea and the U.S. is moving toward a bright future.
The diplomatic function drew about 630 participants, including U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and White House Deputy National Security Adviser Avril Haines.
Kerry said that Seoul and Washington consult and work closely with one another on issues of vital importance to both countries, adding that these imperatives include the fight against terror, the pursuit of peace, respect for human rights and the rule of law, and efforts to promote strong and sustainable economic growth.
"We also recognize that ours has to be a dynamic partnership that focuses, as our citizens do, on issues of the future and particularly issues like clean energy, the need to address the challenge of climate change, and ensuring that we have smart rules in place to guarantee the preservation of open space and also a reliable and secure Internet," Kerry said at the gathering.
Kerry also expressed gratitude to Park for laying a wreath at the Korean War Veterans Memorial -- the first event Park attended since she arrived in Washington on Tuesday.
Park said she visited the memorial to let Americans know that South Korea will never forget those who sacrificed their lives to help defend South Korea.
Park's encounter with Kerry came two days before Park meets with Obama for talks expected to reaffirm their commitment to North Korea's denuclearization and urge Pyongyang not to conduct any provocations.
North Korea will be at the top of the agenda for Park and Obama when they meet on Friday, U.S. National Security Council Senior Director for Asian Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink said at a Foreign Press Center briefing. (Yonhap)