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Lee to reiterate position on KORUS FTA, naval base plan

President Lee Myung-bak is expected to reiterate his vow to push ahead with his administration’s major projects during a press conference on Wednesday amid the opposition’s moves to reverse them.

During the hour-long press conference to mark the final year of his five-year term, Lee is also likely to express his concerns about a slew of welfare pledges the ruling and opposition parties alike have churned out ahead of April 11 general elections.

The news conference that will begin at 10 a.m. will be broadcast through local television and radio stations. It will also be aired online via social networking services such as Twitter and Facebook.

Lee has particularly expressed his concerns about the opposition’s moves to reverse the Korea-U.S. free trade pact expected to take effect later this month or early next month.

The government said that the pact will create jobs, boost exports and enhance long-standing ties with Washington. But the opposition argues that the balance of interest in the deal, signed in 2007 and revised in 2010, has swung in favor of the U.S.

Lee is also expected to touch on the opposition’s pledge to scarp the project to establish a strategic naval base on the southern resort island of Jeju.

The government says that the base is crucial to protect maritime transport routes and for other purposes, while the opposition argues it will hurt the ecosystem of the island and its tourism industry.

Regarding the Korea-U.S. FTA and the naval project, Lee is expected to criticize the main opposition Democratic Unified Party for “reversing itself.” The party first pushed for the two while it was the ruling party.

“A considerable number of core projects our government has pursued were things that have been handed over from the preceding Roh Moo-hyun government,” a Cheong Wa Dae official told media on condition of anonymity.

“Despite this, they frequently reverse themselves ahead of the major elections. It is the president’s thought that he should point to such reversals (during the conference).”

Lee is also expected to comment on a recent series of corruption scandals involving his close associates.

By Song Sang-ho (
Korea Herald Youtube