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Friday, 20 December, 2002, 14:56 GMT
South Korea's Roh makes US pledge
South Korea's president-elect has vowed to build on efforts to engage with North Korea, saying he would work closely with the US to peacefully resolve concerns over the Stalinist state's nuclear ambitions.
Speaking a day after his victory, Mr Roh said he hoped to meet soon with US President George Bush. He also hoped for a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.
Mr Roh appears to have won support from young voters for his policy of opposing US efforts to isolate North Korea over its suspected nuclear weapons programme.
"I will do my best to ease the tension on the Korean peninsula, which is clouded by North Korea's nuclear issue," he told a news conference on Friday.
He also said he would press for changes in the agreement governing the 37,000 US troops based in South Korea, following anti-US protests at the acquittal by a US court martial of two US soldiers tried for negligent homicide over the road deaths of two teenage girls in June.
But he said nothing would be "drastically changing" and called for a "mature" relationship with the US.
Mr Roh, of the governing Millennium Democratic Party, beat his conservative rival Lee Hoi-chang, by 2.3 percentage points, taking 48.9% of the vote.
Mr Roh said during the campaign that he would not "kow tow" to Washington.
The White House said President Bush "warmly congratulates" Mr Roh, as the US State Department dismissed Mr Roh's anti-US talk as "made in the heat of the campaign".
Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi also sent Mr Roh his "heartfelt congratulations".
Mr Lee, who also narrowly lost the 1997 election, on Friday declared his retirement, after apologising to his Grand National Party.
"Now I am going out of politics," Mr Lee, 67, said in a tearful farewell speech.
The new president will formally take office in February, when President Kim Dae-jung, limited to one five-year term under the constitution, steps down.
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