But from aÂ U.S. military base just outside ofÂ Seoul, the President also marked the day with a scathing warning toÂ North Korea. He said the countryâ€™s nuclear ambitions will only lead to more isolation and less security.
“Pyongyang should not be mistaken,” Obama told troops at theÂ U.S. Army Garrison in Yongsan, where more than 28,000 Americans are stationed.Â â€œTheÂ United States will never waver in our commitment to the security of the Republic of Korea. We will not waver.”
He said the North can receive help from the rest of the world if it gives up its nuclear pursuits.
Obama added that theÂ Korean Peninsula â€œprovides the world’s clearest contrast between a society that is open and a society that is closed, between a nation that is dynamic and growing, and a government that would rather starve its people than change.â€
In a setback for the President, U.S. and South Korean officials failed on Thursday to reach a long-sought free-trade deal during the Presidentâ€™s 10-day trip toÂ Asia.
Obama assured reporters that it would be weeks â€” not months â€” until a new agreement is reached. He said that could mean $10 billion in U.S. exports and 70,000 jobs for Americans.
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