BY Aliyah Shahid
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
President Obama celebrated Veterans Day half a world away, saluting U.S. troops who defended South Korea during its war against the communist North.
But from a U.S. military base just outside of Seoul, the President also marked the day with a scathing warning to North Korea. He said the country’s nuclear ambitions will only lead to more isolation and less security.
"Pyongyang should not be mistaken," Obama told troops at the U.S. Army Garrison in Yongsan, where more than 28,000 Americans are stationed. “The United States will never waver in our commitment to the security of the Republic of Korea. We will not waver."
He said the North can receive help from the rest of the world if it gives up its nuclear pursuits.
Obama added that the Korean Peninsula “provides the world's clearest contrast between a society that is open and a society that is closed, between a nation that is dynamic and growing, and a government that would rather starve its people than change.”
In a setback for the President, U.S. and South Korean officials failed on Thursday to reach a long-sought free-trade deal during the President’s 10-day trip to Asia.
Obama assured reporters that it would be weeks — not months — until a new agreement is reached. He said that could mean $10 billion in U.S. exports and 70,000 jobs for Americans.
Meanwhile, First Lady Michelle Obama surprised 200 U.S. troops in Germany, helping to serve steaks at a Veterans Day meal.
She made the stop at the Ramstein Air Base on her way home from Asia, where she was accompanying the President. She visited wounded soldiers recovering at a nearby hospital.
She plans to meet with her German counterpart, Bettina Wulff before heading back to Washington.