Cablegate: Seoul - Press Bulletin; November 16, 2009

DE RUEHUL #1811/01 3200816
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E.O. 12958: N/A


Chosun Ilbo
ROKG Has Contacted Companies
Since Early This Year to Discuss Sejong City

JoongAng Ilbo
Birthrate Crisis Forces Tougher Stand on Abortion

Dong-a Ilbo
Survey: 73 Percent of Respondents Say
They "Will Not Buy American Cars Even
if Prices Fall10 Percent"

Hankook Ilbo
Eight Japanese Tourists among Dead
in Indoor Shooting Range Fire

Hankyoreh Shinmun
Broadcasting and Communications Commission Chairman
Choi Si-jung Primarily Responsible for
"Illegally Controlling Broadcasting"

Segye Ilbo
ROKG Overflows with Various Special Zones,
Innovative and Business Cities

Seoul Shinmun
ROKG Making All-out Effort to Attract Companies
to Sejong City


According to a military source, North Korea yesterday briefly
activated its radar systems for surface-to-ship missiles at a
western coastal site, prompting ROK navy ships to move to safer
areas. (All)

ROK conservative groups will hold a massive rally on Nov. 19 to call
for a delay in transferring wartime operational control from the
U.S. to the ROK. This rally is timed to coincide with President
Barack Obama's visit to Seoul. (Chosun)


President Obama, during a Nov. 15 APEC summit in Singapore, unveiled
his new Asia policy that acknowledged China as a partner and urged
Asian countries to stop being dependent on exports to the U.S.
(JoongAng, Hankyoreh)

President Obama also said in a Nov. 14 speech in Japan that the U.S.
is ready to provide a different future to North Korea if the North
gives up its nuclear ambitions. (Hankook, Hankyoreh)

"Conciliatory Gesture Ahead of Bosworth's Visit to
Pyongyang?:"According to a diplomatic source in Washington, the
White House has replaced Philip Goldberg, Coordinator for the
Implementation of UN Sanctions on North Korea, by naming him as
Assistant Secretary at the Bureau of Intelligence and Research.


U.S.-Asia: Pres. Obama Speech in Japan, APEC Summit

All ROK media today covered President Barack Obama's Nov. 14 speech

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in Japan, in which he outlined his "new Asia policy" and
demonstrated his solidarity with Asia by calling himself "America's
first Pacific President."

President Obama was widely quoted: "Working in tandem with our
partners, and supported by direct diplomacy, the U.S. is prepared to
offer North Korea a different future (if it abandons its nuclear
ambitions.) We will not be cowed by threats, and we will continue
to send a clear message through our actions, and not just our

Right-of-center JoongAng Ilbo editorialized: "(President Obama's
speech) is a landmark one, since it stresses cooperation and
solidarity with Asia, which is emerging as the center of the world.
We truly hope that President Obama will deliver on the visions he
presented in his speech, which notably feature his balanced thoughts
and approaches."

Conservative Dong-a Ilbo's editorial argued: "While talking about
Asia-focused policy, President Obama mentioned North Korea policy.
... This carries all the more weight because President Obama
presented the resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue as part
of his efforts to carry out Asia-focused policy. ... It is up to
North Korea whether it remains in isolation by holding on to its
nuclear weapons or embraces a new future. North Korean leader Kim
Jong-il should take President Obama's statements seriously and make
a wise choice."

Left-leaning Hankyoreh Shinmun, meanwhile, carried an editorial
entitled "Need to Deal Proactively with Obama's Policy of Valuing
China." It stated: "President Obama made it clear that the U.S. has
no intention of checking China by saying, 'Cultivating spheres of
cooperation with China - not competing spheres of influence - will
lead to progress in the Asia Pacific.' This means that the U.S.
practically acknowledged China as the world's second superpower and
expressed its intention to expand cooperation with China not only on
political, economic and environmental issues but also on the
military issue."

N. Korea

Carrying the headline, "Conciliatory Gesture Ahead of Bosworth's
Visit to Pyongyang?," conservative Chosun Ilbo ran an inside-page
report quoting a diplomatic source in Washington as saying that
Philip Goldberg, Coordinator for the Implementation of UN Sanctions
on North Korea, has been appointed as Assistant Secretary of the
Bureau of Intelligence and Research at the State Department. The
report went on to say: "ROKG and USG officials say Goldberg's
replacement reflects his personal wish to move to a new post. ...
Given that the appointment comes at a time when the USG is
considering dialogue with North Korea, however, it could have a
positive effect on Special Representative for North Korea Policy
Stephen Bosworth's visit to the North."


(JoongAng Ilbo, November 16, page 35: Excerpts)

By Former Prime Minister Lee Hong-koo

With the U.S.'s waning political and military influence and the
global financial crisis, we are facing common tasks to seek a new
world order in an era of multipolarization. At this time, President
Obama is emerging as a leader who can open the door to the future
for the U.S. and the world.

The international community including the ROK has a shared
understanding of the agenda President Obama has proposed for peace
and prosperity of mankind. President Obama reaffirmed his
commitment to taking the lead over efforts to address the issues of
climate change, nuclear proliferation and poverty by recognizing

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them as imminent tasks the international community cannot ignore any
longer. This position by President Obama helps enhance U.S.
leadership in international politics and brings positive effects to
the ROK-U.S. alliance.

Northeast Asia, where President Obama is making a tour, has achieved
economic growth at the fastest pace, gaining attention as a new
center of international politics and economy. However, Northeast
Asia is also riddled with complicated challenges. Even though
Hiroshima was (the first city in history) to suffer from an atomic
bombing 64 years ago, (North Korea) is threatening nuclear war in
order to secure its own regime. Most of all, little progress has
been made for the unification of the Korean Peninsula. In a word,
the ROK and the U.S. as allies face a rough road ahead.

The ROK is fully committed to playing its role to achieve common
goals along with its allies. The ROK has decided to sharply
increase its aid to developing countries and is actively
participating in international efforts to keep peace in the regions
plagued by war and terrorism. The ROK also proactively engages in
international efforts to cope with climate change by setting "green
growth" as a central axis of its economic policy. This
forward-looking approach is based on our belief that a peaceful and
fair world order can be achieved through the ROK-U.S. alliance.

The ROK-U.S. alliance is not just a military alliance but a 21st
century partnership that guarantees security and prosperity and
creates a new productive world order.

President Obama's visit to the ROK will provide an opportunity to
demonstrate this future-oriented ROK-U.S. alliance internationally.

(Hankyoreh Shinmun, November 16, 2009, Page 27)

In Japan, the first stop in his tour to Asia, U.S. President Barack
Obama announced an Asia policy of prioritizing (the region) and
actively participating in Asian issues. One could say this is a
reflection of a reality in which the U.S., its power weakening due
to last year's global financial crisis, has no choice but to deepen
ties with Asia, whose political and economic presence is growing.
It was a major foreign policy speech second only to his Prague
speech in April in which he called for a world without nuclear
weapons and his June speech in Cairo in which called for dialogue
and reconciliation with the Muslim world.

Within Obama's Asia policy, the most eye-catching aspect is the
importance he places on China. President Obama made it clear that
the U.S. has no intention of checking China by saying, 'Cultivating
spheres of cooperation with China - not competing spheres of
influence - will lead to progress in the Asia Pacific.' This means
that the U.S. practically acknowledged China as the world's second
superpower and expressed its intention to expand cooperation with
China not only on political, economic and environmental issues but
also on the military issue. Not only was this a virtual
acknowledgement of the prestige of China, which has risen to become
the world's No. 2 superpower, but is also an expression of
willingness to further cooperate with China on military issues.
This is precisely the reason the world has been watching the
conversations being shared between China's leaders and Obama, who
kicked off a four-day, three-night visit to China yesterday.

President Obama also revealed his desire to strengthen traditional
alliances with South Korea and Japan, and a firm attitude regarding
the North Korean nuclear issue. Obama once again stressed the
provision of an expanded U.S. deterrence to aid in protecting South
Korea and Japan, and called on North Korea to return to the
Six-Party Talks and keep its prior commitments, including ones
expressed in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). This could
not erase the impression, however, that compared to the
prioritization of China, the importance of these issues have

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Regarding the U.S.-China summit, the thing we must pay most
attention to is the pending North Korea nuclear issue. The U.S. and
China have been leading a line of dialogue since the second half of
the year. Next month, Stephen Bosworth, U.S. Special Representative
for North Korea Policy, will visit North Korea in an attempt to
restart North Korea-U.S. dialogue. Meanwhile, the Lee Myung-bak
Administration is still not abandoning its policy of putting
pressure on North Korea, and is being pointed to as a source of
discord between South Korea and China. The Administration has named
Ryu Woo-ik, former Chief Presidential Secretary and a close aide to
President Lee, as its new ambassador to China. The Lee government
must use this nomination of a powerful figure as ambassador to China
to try to create a system of close cooperation with the Chinese
government, in which Seoul has a strong voice on not only Korean
issues, but on world issues as well.

(This is a translation provided by the newspaper, and it is
identical to the Korean version.)

(JoongAng Ilbo, November 16, page 34)

U.S. President Barack Obama delivered a historic speech about the
U.S.'s Asia policy at Suntory Hall in Tokyo last weekend. Obama
candidly presented his thoughts on almost all issues including: the
U.S.'s relations with China, which has emerged as the "G2;" the
U.S.'s alliance with the ROK and Japan; the North Korean issue; and
the U.S.'s role in East Asia. These are the issues which people in
Asia have been wondering about or paying attention to. (President
Obama's speech) is a landmark one, since it stresses cooperation and
solidarity with Asia, which is emerging as the center of the world.
We truly hope that President Obama will deliver on the visions he
presented in his speech, which notably feature his balanced thoughts
and approaches.

Regarding the U.S.'s relations with China, President Obama announced
that the U.S. will "pursue pragmatic cooperation with China on
issues of mutual concern" without containing China. He emphasized,
"No one nation can meet the challenges of the 21st century on its
own," adding, "The U.S. and China will both be better off if we meet
(these challenges) together." This signifies that the U.S. will
acknowledge China as a partner and seek a pragmatic partnership
through cooperation on global issues. However, Obama drew a clear
line on freedom and human rights issues by saying, "The U.S. will
never waver in speaking up for the fundamental values that we hold
dear because support for human rights and human dignity is ingrained
in America."

President Obama said that "a deeper relationship with China" does
not mean "a weakening of our bilateral alliances," trying to dispel
concerns about U.S.-China relations among the U.S.'s Asia-Pacific
allies. This indicates that the U.S. will be committed to the
security of its allies such as the ROK, Japan, Australia, Thailand,
and the Philippines. In particular, President Obama reiterated that
bilateral alliances should be based on equality and mutual respect,
being mindful of Japan's Democratic government, which claims it will
seek to stand on equal footing with the U.S.

President Obama made his position clear about North Korea. He said,
"The path for North Korea to realize this (new) future is clear: a
return to the Six-Party Talks; upholding previous commitments,
including a return to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty; and the
full and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula." He
reaffirmed that the U.S. will resolve the North Korean nuclear issue
through close cooperation with Six-Party members and will achieve a
nuclear-free North Korea.

President Obama announced, "As an Asia-Pacific nation, the U.S.
expects to be involved in the discussions that shape the future of
this region." In particular, he said that the U.S. looks forward
to engaging with the East Asia Summit (EAS), which involves 16
countries including the Association of Southeast Asian Nations

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(ASEAN) members and the ROK, China, India, Australia and New
Zealand. This shows that the U.S. is willing to participate in
discussions on the East Asia community through the EAS. It is a
good sign that the U.S. clarified its position on discussions on
East Asia's integration. Obama stressed, however, "One of the
important lessons this recession has taught us is the limits of
depending primarily on American consumers and Asian exports to drive
growth." The ROK and China, which depend heavily on exports, should
pay special attention to this remark.

(Dong-a Ilbo, November 16, 2009, Page 35)

U.S. President Barack Obama said during his November 14 speech in
Tokyo that if North Korea abandons its nuclear development, "the
U.S. is prepared to offer North Korea a different future." With
U.S.-North Korea bilateral dialogue ahead, this signals that
Washington is not only willing to resolve conflicts with the North
but is also (prepared) to provide massive aid to the communist
state. President Obama emphasized in an earlier interview with
Yonhap News, "By taking irreversible steps towards the complete
elimination of its nuclear program, North Korea will be following
the peaceful path towards security and respect." He presented a way
for the North to get out of a total crisis.

President Obama's remarks virtually herald the resolution of the
nuclear issue by the leaders of the ROK, the U.S., China and Japan.
After visiting Japan and Singapore, President Obama started his
three-day trip to China yesterday. He will visit the ROK on
November 18-19. President Obama said, "President Lee and I are in
full agreement on the need to achieve a comprehensive resolution of
the nuclear problem." Now that discussions with Japan are over, the
remaining task for Obama is to coordinate stances with China.
Saying, "The U.S. does not seek to contain China, nor does a deeper
relationship with China mean a weakening of our bilateral
alliances," President Obama recognized China as a partner for
cooperation. Chinese President Hu Jintao is highly likely to
support President Obama's "carrot" policy toward the North.

While talking about Asia-focused policy, President Obama mentioned
North Korea policy. Born in Hawaii and raised in Indonesia,
President Obama described himself as America's first Pacific
President. This carries all the more weight because President Obama
presented the resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue as part
of his efforts to carry out Asia-focused policy. He also mentioned
"stick" measures. He said that the U.S. will not be cowed by North
Korea's nuclear development threats and added, "So long as these
weapons exist, the United States will maintain a strong and
effective nuclear deterrent that guarantees the defense of our
allies - including South Korea and Japan."

It is up to North Korea whether it remains in isolation by holding
on to its nuclear weapons or embraces a new future. North Korean
leader Kim Jong-il should take President Obama's statements
seriously and make a wise choice. Although North Korea staged
military provocations in the Yellow Sea in addition to the second
nuclear test, the door to dialogue is still open. If the North
rejects Obama's offer for dialogue, the international community will
have no choice but to take stick measures.


(Dong-a Ilbo, November 16, 2009, Page 3)

By Reporters Chang Kang-myung and Kim Sang-woon

"Korea must further open up its car market to the U.S. All we're
asking for is for our own car companies to be able to compete on a
level playing field in the Korean market." This is what U.S. Trade

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Representative Ron Kirk told a dinner meeting of the Korea-U.S.
Business Council Nov. 5.

"Korea has been bashing foreign cars by mobilizing non-tariff
barriers. The Korea-U.S. free trade agreement must be revised."
This is what 12 U.S. senators and Congressmen said in a letter to
Kirk Nov. 6.

Many Korean experts say these comments show U.S. ignorance of the
Korean market at the same time as its attempt to appeal to American

Why American cars are unpopular in Korea

In a survey of 27 experts in Korea conducted by the industrial news
desk of Dong-a Ilbo, 18 said U.S. cars are unpopular in Korea
because of "problems with products." In particular, they noted that
the overall quality of American cars is poor and that they are too
big with low fuel efficiency. Kim Ki-chan, Chairman of the Korea
Academy of Motor Industry, said, "American carmakers have focused on
financing rather than the products themselves," adding, "Lack of
competitiveness at plants can be seen in the vehicles."

Many critics also said American cars do not cater to Korean tastes.
As for luxury vehicles, Koreans like a stately and dignified look,
but American cars are seen as too decorative by Koreans. For
example, a U.S. undersecretary-level official reportedly said, "Why
would a vehicle unpopular in the U.S. sell well in Korea," after
hearing about an American model popular in Korea while visiting

In a survey of general Korean consumers, 16.8 percent cited poor
design as why American cars do not sell well in Korea. Another 18.7
percent said they would buy other cars even if American models were
sold 10 percent cheaper, citing poor design.

Notably, American cars with poor gas mileage have grown less popular
around the world in the wake of the global financial crisis amid
high oil prices last year and this year. Hyundai Motor and Kia
Motors, with their strong lineup of smaller vehicles, have made
great strides abroad, after General Motors and Chrysler underwent
bankruptcy protection and Ford struggled due to a managerial crisis.

No notable trade barriers

Most experts also brushed aside the notion of trade barriers in
Korea. On trade barriers other than tariffs, if any, nine (33.3
percent) cited car standards and regulations such as safety and
environmental (concerns), while 10 (37 percent) noted consumer taste
and public sentiment. Kang Cheol-goo, Director at the Korea
Automobile Manufacturers Association, said, "Since countries have
different climates and driving cultures, the standards and
regulations for vehicle safety and the environment should be
different," adding, "When Korean automakers export cars, they also
meet the standards of the importing country. These cannot be
considered trade barriers."

As for consumer taste and public sentiment, another expert said,
"They could be an obstacle to selling American cars in Korea, but I
wonder if we can call it a trade barrier." "Should the Korean
government go so far as to stage a campaign to promote purchase of
U.S. cars?" An import car industry source said, "In the past, there
were practical barriers, including a ban on advertisements for
imported cars," adding, "I don't see any notable barriers other than
tariffs." Four experts (14.8 percent) cited no notable trade

Sales of European, Japanese cars surging

Critics also said that even if there are trade barriers in the
Korean auto market, European and Japanese cars are seeing their
market shares rise. According to the Korea Automobile Importers and
Distributors Association, imported vehicle sales in Korea increased

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from 19,481 units in 2003, or 1.9 percent of the market, to 61,648
last year, or 6 percent. Imported vehicle sales have continued to
set new records every year since 2002.

The sales volume of European cars in Korea increased from 12,535
units (1.2 percent) in 2003 to 32,756 (3.2 percent) last year. Over
the same period, that of Japanese cars surged from 3,774 (0.4
percent) to 21,912 (2.1 percent) units. The sales volume of
American cars marginally increased from 3,172 (0.3 percent) to 6,980
units (0.7 percent) over the same period. The new BMW series sold
1,578 vehicles in Korea from January through October this year, the
fourth largest by volume in a global market. The same tariff rate
is levied on all import vehicles.

Except for GM-Daewoo Auto & Technology's vehicles, U.S. car brands
in Korea brought through official import channels are Chrysler, Jeep
and Dodge imported by Chrysler Korea, Ford and Lincoln by Ford
Korea, and Cadillac and Saab by GM Korea.

(Yonhap News, November 13, 2009)

The following is the full text of U.S. President Barack Obama's
interview with Yonhap News Agency.

(President Obama) I am very much looking forward to my trip to Asia
and visiting Seoul and meeting with President Lee (Myung-bak).
President Lee and I have established a very strong working
relationship, which I think is quite evident in our close
coordination on global issues, particularly on North Korea. So let
me first start with your question on North Korea.

(Yonhap) Mr. President. What is your view of North Korea's nuclear
and missile programs? Are you prepared to hold bilateral talks with
North Korea? Also, do you think the Six-Party Talks will work to
denuclearize the North or do you have any other solutions in mind if
the talks fail?

(President Obama) North Korea's nuclear and missile capabilities are
a grave concern, not only to the Republic of Korea and the United
States, but to the international community. This is an issue that
President Lee and I have discussed in depth and we will hold
consultations on this and other subjects in Seoul later this month.
President Lee and I are in full agreement on the need to achieve a
comprehensive resolution of the nuclear, missile, and proliferation
problems, and cooperation between our two governments is extremely
close. We believe the Six-Party Talks are the best framework for
reaching peaceful resolution and that the September 2005 Joint
Statement clearly lays out the goals we must achieve. We are open
to a bilateral meeting as part of the Six-Party process if that will
lead to an expeditious resumption of the denuclearization

North Korea's attempt to acquire weapons of mass destruction and the
means to deliver them is destabilizing and represents a threat to
peace and security. This is why the United Nations Security Council
adopted strong measures under Resolution 1874 and why the UN members
states are enforcing the provisions of those resolutions. Pursuit
of nuclear weapons and missile delivery systems makes North Korea
and the region less secure, whereas negotiations in the Six-Party
process to achieve the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean
Peninsula can bring security and prosperity to North Korea and the

This is the choice that North Korea faces. North Korea has the
opportunity to move towards acceptance by the international
community if it will comply with its international obligations and
live up to its own commitments. By taking irreversible steps
towards the complete elimination of its nuclear program, North Korea
will be following the peaceful path towards security and respect.

(Yonhap) You supported South Korea's bid to host the G-20 summit in
November next year. What kind of role do you expect South Korea to

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play in the G-20 forum?

(President Obama) South Korea's emergence as host of the G-20
leaders meeting next year is the latest evidence that South Korea is
playing an important leadership role on the world stage. President
Lee has done a superb job steering South Korea's economy through the
economic downturn and now on an upward trajectory, and I am looking
forward to his continued strong leadership in the Asia Pacific
region on the economic policy front.

South Korea's hosting of the G-20 next year is also a prime example
of the economic success it has had in a relatively short period of
time and its movement into the ranks of the world's leading
economies. South Korea's success serves as a prime example for
still developing economies and its hosting of the G-20 next year is
demonstrative of the global leadership role that it is undertaking.
I am pleased that South Korea has agreed to host the G-20 meeting
next year and the US will help support their efforts to ensure that
the meeting is a success.

(Dong-a Ilbo, November 16, 2009, Front Page)

By Reporters Chang Kang-myung and Kim Sang-woon

With U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to the ROK drawing nearer,
some U.S. lawmakers argue, "The ROK should open its doors wider to
U.S. vehicles." It has been found, however, that ROK consumers and
experts on commerce and automobiles believe, "The reason why U.S.
vehicles do not sell well in the ROK is due to their lack of
competitiveness." Furthermore, seven out of ten ROK consumers
answered that even if U.S. car prices fell by 10 percent, they would
still purchase Korean, Japanese or European cars, instead of U.S.

The industrial news desk of Dong-a Ilbo and, a SK Energy
portal site, conducted a survey of 513 members of the Internet site
by e-mail on November 10-11. According to the results, 49.4 percent
of the respondents cited problems with products - such as design
(16.8 percent), fuel efficiency (12.7 percent), functions (7.4
percent) and brand image (7.2 percent) - as why U.S. cars do not
sell well in the ROK. 90.8 percent of those surveyed possess their
own cars, and among them, 41.2 percent have mid- and large-size cars
with engine displacement of more than 2,000cc.

A total of 72.9 percent of the respondents said that even if U.S.
car prices dropped by 10 percent, they would still buy Korean,
European or Japanese vehicles. Based on this result, it can be
predicted that even if the current eight-percent tariff on U.S.
autos is eliminated, their sales in the ROK will not increase much.
The car import industry estimates that even if the ROK-U.S. Free
Trade Agreement (FTA) comes into force and removes tariffs on U.S.
cars, their actual market prices will drop by only 4 to 6 percent.
Lee Hang-koo, a researcher at the Korea Institute for Industrial
Economics and Trade, pointed out, "Even in the U.S., Asian vehicles
rank high in consumer satisfaction surveys."

Regarding the auto section of the ROK-U.S. FTA, 12 (44.4 percent)
out of 27 experts of automobiles and commerce, including 12
officials in the car import industry, said, "The levels of market
opening in the ROK and the U.S. are similar," and 9 people (33.3
percent) responded, "The ROK's market opening level is higher."
Only two answered, "The U.S.'s market opening level is higher."

Last year, the ROK exported over 590,000 assembled cars to the U.S.
while the U.S. exported only 8,864 assembled cars to the ROK. The
share of U.S. cars in the ROK market has remained below 1 percent
for several years.

Some experts argue that domestic sales by GM Daewoo, the automaker
in which General Motors has a 70.1 percent stake, should be counted
into the U.S.'s share of the ROK auto market. In the ROK market

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alone, GM Daewoo sold over 110,000 cars (market share: 10.1
percent) last year. When Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group's 6 to 8
percent market share in the U.S. is reported, the company's output
in Alabama is counted in. Lee Sang-ho, a professor of economics at
Sejong University, said, "Locally produced GM Daewoo (vehicles
should be included in the sales of U.S. automakers," adding, "The
ROKG should actively publicize this."


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