Obama to Begin South Korea Nuclear Security Trip with Visit to DMZ
March 21, 2012 - 8:14 am
President Obama is following up his 2010 nuclear security summit with a follow-up event this weekend at North Korea’s doorstep.
“I think you can expect to hear the president speak about his ongoing commitment to secure all vulnerable nuclear materials from terrorists,” Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters on a conference call yesterday. “…And you’ll hear the President I think speak to the fact that our efforts on behalf of nuclear security and safety are also a part of our commitment to peaceful nuclear energy as an important part of our energy policy going forward here in the United States, and an important part and resource of energy around the world as well.”
The visit comes of the heels of Pyongyang announcing it would test a satellite just a couple weeks after forging a deal with the U.S. to freeze missile testing in exchange for food aid.
Obama will first visit the demilitarized zone after he arrives Sunday. He’ll follow this with a bilateral meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and a dinner with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak. On Monday, he’ll give a speech at Hankuk University in Seoul.
He’ll then meet one-on-one with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev for the final time and Chinese President Hu Jintao.
On Tuesday is the summit itself.
“The Nuclear Security Summit is not about North Korea,” said National Security Council Director for Asia Danny Russel. “It is about the challenges of securing fissile material. It’s about the commitment of the participating nations to honor their pledges and their commitments, and it’s about the emerging role of the Republic of Korea as a significant contributor to the global good.
“North Korea will be the odd man out. …So rather than speculate on the character of Kim Jong-un, I think we can focus on the significance of the upcoming meeting in Seoul.”
It will be Obama’s third visit to South Korea as president.