US seeks free trade agreement with S. Korea

The chief US negotiator in free trade talks with South Korea said Tuesday she is under orders to conclude an agreement by the end of this year good enough for lawmakers in Washington to accept. "We look forward to coming home with a good deal and a fair deal for the United States and Korea that we can get through our Congress," Assistant US Trade Representative Wendy Cutler told a gathering of the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea. The two countries said last month that they would begin talks on a free trade pact that, if successful, would be the biggest for the United States since the North American Free Trade Agreement of 1993. The announced Monday that formal negotiations will start on June 5 in Washington, putting them under a tight deadline as the Bush Administration's authority to negotiate an agreement and submit it to Congress for a simple yea-or-nay vote without amendments runs out in June 2007.