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U.S. to re-engage on S. Korea trade

TORONTO – President Barack Obama said Saturday his administration will launch talks with South Korea aimed at resolving remaining issues blocking the completion of a South Korea free trade agreement.

Obama said that his goal would be to clear up the remaining issues before he visits South Korea in November and to submit the agreement to Congress for approval within a “few months” after his visit.

“It is the right thing to do for our country. It is the right thing to do for Korea,” Obama said with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak at his side.

Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs said the deal would likely be sent to Congress early next year, although he said the pact might be sent sooner during a possible lame-duck session of Congress after the November elections.

Gibbs said the two major sticking points included barriers South Korea has erected to the sale of U.S. autos and beef in South Korea.

The administration of George W. Bush negotiated a free trade deal with South Korea in 2007, but the agreement has been stalled since because of opposition led by U.S. automakers.