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Washington (AFP) April 23, 2013
South Korean President Park Geun-Hye will address a joint meeting of the US Congress next month, lawmakers said Tuesday, in a show of support for the new leader after tensions with North Korea soared.
South Korea's first female president will speak to Congress on May 8, a day after her scheduled summit with President Barack Obama at the White House, House Speaker John Boehner announced Tuesday.
Boehner said in a statement that the address will show that the longstanding allies "stand shoulder-to-shoulder" in the face of North Korea's "recent provocative actions."
Park took office in February in the midst of a crisis with North Korea, which had just tested a nuclear bomb and threatened war against South Korea and the United States over what it viewed as US hostility.
Representative Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said the address would be appropriate as it would come shortly ahead of the 60th anniversary of the armistice that halted the Korean War.
"I believe it is only fitting to bestow this high honor to Northeast Asia's first elected female head of state," said Royce, a Republican from California.
Joint meetings of Congress, known for their pageantry, bring together lawmakers from the House of Representatives and Senate in a ceremonial show of respect for visiting dignitaries.
Boehner's office said that Park would be the sixth South Korean leader to address a joint meeting of Congress, although her predecessors at the rostrum did not include her father, late dictator Park Chung-Hee.
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