South Korean President Lee Myung Bak has said his country is ready to discuss US concerns about the auto trade imbalance in the context of a bilateral free trade agreement signed nearly two years ago.

"If there is a problem in an auto trade in the United States, we are ready to discuss the issue again,'' Lee said in a joint news conference with US President Barack Obama after their talks in Seoul.

However, a foreign ministry spokesman later ruled out a formal renegotiation of the free trade deal with the United States concluded in June 2007 but not yet ratified by the legislatures of the two countries.

Ratification of the deal has yet to take place, partly because the Obama administration has yet to submit it to the US Congress for approval amid criticism from the US auto industry that it lacks provisions to ensure better access for US auto exports to South Korea.

South Korea has defended the FTA as a balanced agreement that reflects the interests of both sides.

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