SEOUL, March 21 (Yonhap) -- South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se praised the first anniversary of the implementation of the free trade agreement with the United States, calling the deal a "central axis" of bilateral relations along with the countries' long-standing military alliance, the foreign ministry said Thursday.

Yun made the remarks during a meeting with a delegation of U.S. trade officials, led by Missouri Governor Jeremiah Wilson, on Wednesday, the ministry said in a statement.

The free trade agreement came into force on March 15 last year.

Yun told the delegation that South Korea owes the U.S. for what it is today, noting that this year marks the 60th anniversary of their alliance.

"The sacrifice by U.S. troops during the 1950-53 Korean War served as a foundation for Korea to achieve economic development and democracy," Yun said.

South Korea aims to upgrade the bilateral relations to a "comprehensive strategic alliance," Yun said.

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