South Korean President-elect Roh Moo-hyun (NO MOO-HE'YUN) is ruling out radical change in relations between his country and the United States, but he says the friendship should mature and advance.
Mr. Roh on Friday accepted an invitation from President Bush to visit Washington soon after his inauguration in late February. The White House says the two leaders agreed in a telephone conversation to work closely together to further strengthen their alliance and to promote peace on the Korean peninsula.
At his first news conference Friday, the South Korean president-elect told reporters he will propose amendments to an agreement governing 37-thousand American troops stationed in his country. The agreement has been a target of protests since a U-S military court acquitted two U-S soldiers of negligence in a traffic accident that killed two schoolgirls in June.
Otherwise, Mr. Roh -- the candidate of the ruling Millennium Democratic Party -- said his policies on U-S relations, North Korea and foreign affairs will remain about the same as those of outgoing President Kim Dae-jung. He pledged to continue sending cash aid to the North while working closely with the United States and Japan to persuade the communist state to abandon its nuclear program.
Mr. Roh also reaffirmed his campaign promise to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.
The White House says President Bush supports improved relations between the two Koreas, even though he has been skeptical of Seoul's so-called sunshine policy toward Pyongyang.
Mr. Roh rode a wave of anti-U-S sentiment to a narrow victory in Thursday's national election. His opposition rival, Lee Hoi-chang, Friday announced his retirement from politics after his defeat.