That is not free trade,” said Obama. ”We’ve got to have a president who is going to be advocating on behalf of American businesses and American workers.”

South Korea shipped about 700,000 automobiles to the U.S. last year while importing 5,000 from the U.S. Democrats also want more steel shipments to be allowed into South Korea.

U.S. automakers have called for a guaranteed market share, but Bush administration officials say the trade deal will not make such guarantees.

On the North Korean issue, Jannuzi said Obama wants “direct high-level engagement” of North Korea. He also said the six-party talks on the North’s denuclearization are complementary and can allow for denuclearization to take place in a “verifiable, genuine and complete” manner.

“We cannot accept any half solution to this problem. We need a complete solution,” he said.

“To do this, we have to do step by step – normalize relations, lift sanctions, provide security guarantee, energy and economic development assistance to North Korea so they could feel that is in their best interest.”

Jannuzi called for closer tripartite cooperation between South Korea, the U.S. and Japan for the North’s denuclearization.

South Korea has been reluctant towards the idea, citing Japan’s failure to properly own up to its past colonial rule of Korea.

Tokyo is widely accused of trying to gloss over its past militarism in school textbooks, and has claimed sovereignty over the South Korean-administered islets of Dokdo.

The renewed territorial claims have struck a raw nerve with many South Koreans.

Jannuzi said he saw no reason for North Korea not to become a friend of the U.S. someday if Pyongyang fully agrees to denuclearize.

“There is no problem between North Korea and the U.S. that they cannot solve,” he said. “But the key is consistent principles and to be respectful.”

He said the Bush administration spent six years without meaningfully engaging the North.

“Eventually they learned (from) the experience and two years ago began direct bilateral engagement,” he said.

“As soon as they made the change they made some progress,” Jannuzi said, referring to a recently agreed-upon verification plan for North Korea’s nuclear declaration. The agreement signaled a major breakthrough in the six-party talks, which have progressed sluggishly over the last five years.

“I think when Senator Obama talked about his own willingness to engage directly North Korea, it doesn’t mean he will get on the airplane on Jan. 25th to fly to Pyongyang. No one should expect that,” he said.

Obama understands there can be no peaceful resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue “until we have an opportunity to build mutual respect and trust”, Jannuzi said.

“This is the fundamental changes Senator Obama will bring to the White House.”

“I think everyone understands we must engage, but most of the debate is how to engage,” he said.

He noted that former U.S. President Jimmy Carter mediated the Geneva nuclear agreement in 1994 with “some important measure of respect for North Korean leader Kim Il-sung.”

He expected South Korean President Lee Myung-bak will join Obama in engaging North Korea, saying no one will be able to communicate with North Korea through pressure and threats, as the reclusive state has become well accustomed to that approach over the past 60 years.


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