Vol. 5 Num 994 Sun. March 18, 2007  

US, ROK confident of meeting FTA deadline

Ahead of a two-week deadline, the United States and South Korea expressed optimism Friday on crafting an ambitious free trade agreement as they prepared for the final stretch of tough negotiations.

"We've come a long way, we still have a way to go but I firmly believe we can get there by the end of March," chief US negotiator Wendy Cutler told a forum in Washington.

She said quality would not be sacrificed in the rush to complete the deal, the biggest free trade pact since the 1993 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

"Let me say that it is not going to be just any deal. I believe we can achieve a high-quality, comprehensive and balanced deal that both (sides) can take home and get the necessary stakeholders' support to get through the respective legislative bodies," she said.

US President George W. Bush's powers to fast-track trade agreements expire in June.