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Hillary's Attack Bewilders Seoul Government
U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY)

U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) recently accused South Korea of having forgotten the role of the United States in its economic development, stunning Seoul's leftist ruling Uri Party.

The government of President Roh Moo-Hyun believed it was in line with the U.S. Democratic Party when it blasted the Bush administration's hardline policies on the Korean peninsula.

The senator's remarks came at a time when anti-American sentiment has grown among South Koreans, paralleling a thawing of relations with communist North Korea.

Clinton's comments embarrassed Seoul's ruling camp led by Roh who was elected on a strong wave of anti-Americanism. Clinton is a Democratic Party presidential hopeful.

During a confirmation hearing in Washington for Gen. Burwell B. Bell who was nominated as commander of U.S. Forces Korea, Hillary Clinton chastised South Korea for what she claimed was a fog of "historical amnesia" clouding its relationship with the U.S.

The U.S. role in bringing about South Korea's remarkable economic success since the 1950-53 Korean War was significant, but lack of recognition of that view in South Korea bordered on "historical amnesia," Clinton said, noting the decades-long security alliance between Seoul and Washington was at a "critical juncture."

The changing bilateral ties have to do with South Koreans' "understanding of the importance of our position there and what we have done over so many decades to provide them the freedom that they have enjoyed to develop the economy that is now providing so many benefits for South Koreans," she said.

Seoul's presidential office and the Uri Party downplayed Clinton's remarks. "We are not considering her remarks as the U.S. Democratic Party's official stance," one Uri Party official said.

Some activists have recently campaigned to remove a statue of U.S. Gen. Douglas MacArthur, who for decades was viewed by South Koreans as a hero for turning the tide in the Korean War.

During his visit to Seoul earlier this month, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld also expressed regret at the anti-MacArthur campaign in the South, highlighting the sacrifices and contribution the U.S. has made to enable South Korea's rapid economic growth after the Korean War, in which Macarthur played a decisive role.

Some analysts in Seoul said Clinton's comments indicated the so-called fatigue syndrome of the South Korea-U.S. relationship was spreading to the center of the Democratic Party. Previously, Republican conservatives had expressed concerns about the crack in the Korea-U.S. relationship.

The United States and South Korea have remained at odds over how to resolve the North Korean nuclear standoff.

The Foreign Ministry official said it received a letter from Clinton's office saying that her remarks sought to emphasize the "importance of bilateral relations."

Clinton "continues to believe that a strong relationship between the United States and South Korea is critical to meeting the challenges posed by North Korea and other issues," the letter reportedly said.

The above article is from The World Tribune.






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