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Washington Post Chairman Interviews President Lee

Posted April. 19, 2008 05:47,   


Donald E. Graham, 63, chairman of the Washington Post and one who holds special affection for Korea, met with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak at the Blair House, a presidential guest house in Washington, on Thursday morning.

Graham volunteered to join the army as a press officer and reporter in 1967, covering the stories of Korean troops during the Vietnam War. His father, Philip Graham fought in the Korean War as an aide to General Douglas MacArthur, commander of the U.S. armed forces in the Far East. Meanwhile, his mother, Katherine Graham, as the publisher of the Washington Post, had met most Korean presidents in person, beginning with Korea’s first president, Rhee Seung-man.

The presidential office Cheong Wa Dae expected the chairman to briefly greet the president and introduce eight interviewers. But Graham asked a question about the North Korean nuclear issue from the beginning and led the entire interview. During the press conference, Graham broke the news that President Lee would propose the establishment of a liaison office between Seoul and Pyongyang.

The chairman also asked an unexpected question to the president: “As an economic expert, what would be your solution to the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis?” President Lee responded with pleasure to the question.

Lastly, Graham asked, “I asked this of your predecessor Roh Moo-hyun in his first term. Do you think there will be meaningful progress toward unification on the Korean Peninsula during your term in office?”

Lee said, “I refrain from answering that directly because if I say I expect there to be progress, North Korea could misunderstand me. But for Koreans, unification is a mandate and we should prepare for unification that will happen someday.”

“Your predecessor bluntly said, ‘No,’” said Graham. “That’s a change.” A source that was in the interview said, “Graham replied this way because President Lee was very cautious in his answer in contrast to former President Roh, who answered straight forwardly.”