Obama Visit to South Korea Tinged by Mourning - The New Indian Express

Obama Visit to South Korea Tinged by Mourning

Published: 25th April 2014 12:56 PM

Last Updated: 25th April 2014 12:56 PM

President Barack Obama is sitting down with South Korea's President Park Geun-hye, whose attention is unavoidably split between her economic agenda with Obama and the unfolding aftermath of a tragic ferry disaster.          

Obama was due at the Blue House, the South Korean equivalent of the White House, today for a busy evening of meetings with Park, including a working dinner and a news conference.      

The visit is Obama's first to Seoul since Park became the key US ally's first female president, but Park has been consumed for more than a week by the sunken ferry, a dark episode that keeps getting worse as divers discover more bodies.   

The vast majority of the 300 dead or missing victims attended a high school near the capital of Seoul. Most of the ferry's 29-person crew survived, but 11, including the captain, have been arrested on suspicion of negligence or abandoning people in need as the ferry sank. Park recently blasted their actions as "tantamount to murder."         

"When our friends are in trouble, America helps, and we'll continue to do everything we can to stand with our Korean friends at this difficult time," Obama said in an interview published Friday by the South Korean newspaper JoongAng Ilbo.         

After arriving here today, Obama headed first to the National War Memorial, where he laid a wreath in honor of victims of the Korean War and led a naturalization ceremony for 20 military service members and their spouses from 14 countries. He used the occasion to call for a comprehensive immigration overhaul in the US, saying he's going to "keep pushing to get this done this year."         

Obama's motorcade later rolled through downtown Seoul, past a stream lined with yellow ribbons in honor of the ferry victims. He arrived at the Gyeongbok Palace, a sprawling compound with an imposing pagoda-like structure in the center where the president got a tour.

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