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South Korea would 'welcome' Obama meeting with Kim Jong Il

  • Story Highlights
  • South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak attends G-20 financial summit
  • Lee says he would "welcome" meeting between Obama, North Korean leader
  • Obama reportedly tells Lee he will consult with South Korea if there is a meeting
  • Lee calls Obama "the right leader at the right time"
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said Sunday he would "welcome" and "support" a meeting between President-elect Barack Obama and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il if Obama were to take such a step after taking office.

In an interview with CNN's Alina Cho at the Group of 20 financial summit in Washington, Lee said that when he spoke with Obama after the U.S. presidential election, Obama promised to consult with South Korea before taking any major action on North Korea.

In response to a question at a presidential debate, Obama said he would meet without preconditions during the first year of his administration with leaders of several nations whose governments have been at odds with the United States, including North Korea.

Laying out his foreign policy on his campaign Web site prior to the election, Obama said he and his running mate would "use tough diplomacy -- backed by real incentives and real pressures -- to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and to eliminate North Korea's nuclear weapons program."

"Barack Obama and Joe Biden will not take any options off the table, but they will emphasize first and foremost the power of American diplomacy and make clear the substantial benefits to Iran and North Korea of abandoning their dangerous nuclear programs while simultaneously conveying the enormous costs to them should they fail to do so," according to the Web site.

Lee told CNN he has high expectations for Obama, calling him "the right leader at the right time." He said any damage done in recent years to U.S. global leadership may be because the country relied too heavily on "hard power," and that he believes Obama will be effective in utilizing "soft power."

A former CEO of Hyundai, Lee criticized the idea of a bailout of the U.S. auto industry, saying it would set a bad precedent.

CNN's Adam Reiss contributed to this report.

All About Lee Myung-bakSouth KoreaNorth KoreaBarack Obama

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