Obama to visit Korea for talks with Lee, global nuclear summit
U.S. President Barack Obama will arrive in Korea on Sunday for a three-day visit that includes summit talks with President Lee Myung-bak and discussions with dozens of other world leaders on nuclear security, the presidential office said Tuesday.
The upcoming trip, which will be Obama's third to Korea, comes amid heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula after North Korea announced last week that it will launch a satellite on a long-range rocket next month, a pretext Pyongyang has used before to disguise banned missile tests.
The North's move is expected to be a key topic for Lee's talks with Obama, along with other North Korea-related issues, such as the recent nuclear freeze-for-food deal between Washington and Pyongyang. The meeting will be the first Korea-U.S. summit since December's death of autocratic North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.
The summit is expected to "further solidify cooperation on the North Korean nuclear issue, policies on North Korea and the recent Korean Peninsula situation," such as the death of Kim Jong-il, the food-for-nuclear freeze deal and the long-range rocket launch plan, the presidential office said.
In addition, the two leaders also plan to discuss the recently implemented free trade agreement between the sides, and how best to take advantage of it in a mutually beneficial way, the office said. The pact went into force last week, nearly five years after it was first signed in 2007.
The meeting with Obama is one of 26 bilateral summits Lee plans to hold on the sidelines of next week's Nuclear Security Summit set for Monday and Tuesday. The string of meetings will mark the biggest-ever set of bilateral summits Korea has ever held on a single occasion, the office said.
Besides Obama, four other leaders are also scheduled to make their Korea trips official ones as well, not just to attend the nuclear summit. They are Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
The 21 other countries scheduled to hold bilateral summits with South Korea are Kazakhstan, Jordan, China, Georgia, Romania, Russia, South Africa, Gabon, Ukraine, Chile, Nigeria, Hungary, Turkey, New Zealand, Australia, the Netherlands, Denmark, Italy, Spain, the United Arab Emirates and the European Union.
Major topics for these summits include cooperation on the situation on the Korean Peninsula, free trade and other economic cooperation, especially in the defense, energy and infrastructure sectors, as well as climate change and green growth, the office said. (Yonhap)