December 20, 2012 — U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to hasten consultations with South Korea's incoming leader, Park Geun-hye, on a variety of important issues, including North Korea and alliance issues, experts here said Wednesday.
The U.S. government has not issued any formal response to Park's victory in Wednesday's tight South Korean presidential election. She is the first woman president in South Korean history.
The White House is expected to release a congratulatory message later in the day, followed by brief telephone talks between Obama and Park, an administration official said on the condition of anonymity
Korean Peninsula experts in Washington think that the Obama Administration should start consultations with the South Korean president-elect as soon as possible on North Korea and other matters of mutual concern even before she takes office in late February.
"Foremost on the security agenda is how to fashion a successful strategy of engagement, deterrence and readiness for managing North Korea,” said Patrick M. Cronin, a senior analyst at the Center for the New American Security (CNAS).
He called for a "sustained, expert-level dialogue with her trusted advisers on how to fashion a five-year plan for bilateral cooperation," referring to Park's single five-year term of office.
Another key task for the Obama Administration is to coordinate efforts to strengthen trilateral cooperation involving South Korea and Japan, which has selected Shinzo Abe as its new prime minister, Cronin added.
Michael Green, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), also stressed the importance of early consultations between Washington and Seoul on how to handle North Korea amid speculation that the communist country may conduct another nuclear test after firing off a long-range rocket last week.
"Washington will have high confidence in Madame Park's alliance credentials," Green said. (Yonhap News)