Obama Heading to South Korea for Nuclear Summit

Posted March 23rd, 2012 at 3:25 pm (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

U.S. President Barack Obama is scheduled to leave Friday at midnight for the South Korean capital, Seoul, where he is attending a high-profile nuclear summit next week.

More than 50 world leaders are gathering for the Nuclear Security Summit, including Chinese President Hu Jintao. The White House says Mr. Obama will hold bilateral meetings with Mr. Hu and the leaders of Kazakhstan, Russia, South Korea and Turkey on the sidelines of the summit.

A White House statement Friday said President Obama will also meet with Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to review efforts to support an Afghan-led reconciliation process with the Taliban.

Mr. Obama will also visit the tense demilitarized zone between North and South Korea during his trip.

In a conference call with reporters earlier this week, Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said the main points of the DMZ visit are to show support for the more than 28,000 U.S. troops serving in Korea and to stress the U.S. security alliance with South Korea.

Rhodes said the president's message to North Korea is the same as it has been throughout his administration, that by meeting its obligations and denuclearizing Pyongyang can follow a clear path to better relations with the international community.

The DMZ is considered one of the most dangerous places on earth, with heavily-armed North and South Korean forces aligned against one another. The two have remained in a formal state of war since an armistice ended combat in the Korean War in 1953.