South Korean president invited to Washington

April 24, 2013 at 9:29 AM

WASHINGTON, April 24 (UPI) -- A strong security relationship with South Korea is critical given threats from North Korea, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee said.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, announced South Korean President Park Geun-hye will address a joint session of Congress in May.

Park said Wednesday she would take a message of peace to the United States, saying North Korea was welcome to take part in what she dubbed the "Seoul process."

"This is aimed at resolving the so-called Asia paradox where distrust and rows escalate among countries in the region, such as South Korea, China, Japan and Russia, in the area of politics and security when their economic interdependence increases," she was quoted by South Korean Yonhap news agency as saying.

Regional tensions are high in part because of territorial disputes in the South China Sea, a U.S. military focus to the region and concerns over North Korea's nuclear program.

Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., said Park's visit would give lawmakers the opportunity to reaffirm their close relationship with the South Korean government.

"I am confident that she will work to deepen economic and defense cooperation between our two countries with a shared belief in freedom and democracy," he said in a statement. "As the threat from the belligerent North Korean regime continues, a strong relationship is critical."

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