SEOUL — South Korean leaders marked President Bush’s re-election by sending congratulatory messages Thursday and expressing their hope of furthering the “progress in bilateral relations in the past two years.”

In a statement from President Roh Moo-hyun’s office, the government said it “hoped the two countries will be able to join forces to achieve peace and prosperity for people all around the world.”

Bush’s re-election comes at a pivotal point in the 50-year alliance U.S.-South Korean alliance: The standoff over North Korea’s nuclear ambitions remains unresolved and the U.S. military is undertaking sweeping changes to its force structure here.

The South Korean National Security Council met Thursday to analyze what effect, if any, the election would have on U.S. foreign policy — particularly on Pacific region security.

The National Assembly’s foreign affairs committee also met in the election’s wake, officials said. Its members were expected to discuss what could happen should senior U.S. Cabinet officials such as Secretary of State Colin Powell not serve in the second term.

Some government officials, speaking off the record to Korean media, worried about the possibility a second Bush administration would replace those Cabinet members considered “doves” and take a harder stance on the North Korean issue.

A presidential spokesman in Seoul said Roh hoped to meet with Bush during next month’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Chile.

Officials expect the next round of six-party nuclear talks — which stalled for months before the election — to be scheduled soon. During the campaign, Bush said the six-nation framework was the best way to deal with the North.

As of Thursday, North Korea, usually quick to throw rhetorical barbs at the United States, was silent about the election.

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