South Korea-U.S. trade deal in "home stretch,": Clinton
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton flew to South Korea on Saturday to consult Seoul about progress made in sealing a long-delayed trade deal and to coordinate strategy over the nuclear standoff with North Korea. Clinton arrived for talks with South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan on Saturday and President Lee Myung-bak on Sunday, before a trip to Japan in a gesture of support following last month's earthquake and tsunami disasters that killed thousands and crippled a nuclear plant. The shift in focus to Asia follows Clinton's attendance at a NATO conference in Berlin where the alliance's foreign ministers faced strains over a Western air campaign in Libya against forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi. U.S. and South Korean trade negotiators struck a deal in December on a free trade pact, which was signed in 2007 but had not been ratified for three years because of U.S. auto and beef industry concerns. However, both the U.S. Congress and the South Korean have yet to pass bills to approve the pact.