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State dinner: Obama, Lee praise trade deal

Oct. 13, 2011 at 10:59 PM   |   Comments

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WASHINGTON, Oct. 13 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak praised the new free trade agreement between their two nations at a state dinner Thursday.

Obama, describing relations between Washington and Seoul, spoke of "bonds of the heart (that) cannot be broken," and noted that the Senate earlier in the day had ratified his nomination of Sun Kim to be the first Korean-American U.S. ambassador to South Korea.

Lee said his nation will always be grateful to the United States for its military intervention in the Korean War, during which an estimated 37,000 U.S. troops were killed.

Guests at the state dinner included Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, U.N. Secretary General Ban-ki Moon, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Dr. Peter Rhee, the University of Arizona surgeon who operated on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., after she was critically wounded in a shooting during a constituents' meeting in Tucson in January.

First lady Michelle Obama wore a purple gown designed by Doo-Ri Chung, a designer who was born in South Korea and raised in New Jersey.

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