US President Barack Obama arrived late Wednesday in Osan Air base, near the city of Pyeongtaek in Gyeonggi Province, kicking off a two-day visit to South Korea.
The US President Barack Obama arrives in Pyeongtaek, Nov. 18, 2009 to start a visit in South Korea. [Xinhua]
Obama is currently on his four-nation Asia tour that also took him to Japan, Singapore and China. Seoul is the last stop for him.
During his stay in Seoul, which is to last less than 24 hours, Obama will meet with his South Korean counterpart Lee Myung-bak for a summit early Thursday in a bid to strengthen bilateral ties and to find ways to break through various regional and global issues.
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)'s nuclear problem will top the agenda of the Obama-Lee's summit. The two sides are expected to pay attention to the DPRK's abandonment of nuclear program as well, continuing their dialogue in June.
While they shared views on ways to realize Pyongyang's nuclear disarmament, the South Korean president expected Obama to offer his government's support on the grand bargain proposal, which was put forward by Lee in September while he visited the United Nations.
The "grand bargain" calls on the DPRK to abandon its nuclear programs "in a single step", in return for security, diplomatic and economic incentives.
The two leaders are also expected to discuss over a speedy ratification of a free trade deal pact between the two sides.
The US President Barack Obama (L) arrives in Pyeongtaek, Nov. 18, 2009 to start a visit in South Korea. [Xinhua]
Although the summit will not likely deal with detailed measures on pushing for the ratification, the leaders are expected to reaffirm their earlier stance on the issue, vowing to work together to chart a way forward.
The ratification process for South Korea-US FTA has been stalled due to harsh protests in both countries, with South Korean opposition groups demanding modification in terms related to beef industry and those in the US enraged over auto industry-related clauses.
Also among the main topics for discussion is the two countries' joint efforts to fight climate change, Seoul's hosting the G-20 summit meeting in November 2010, and the issue of South Korea's troop dispatch to Afghanistan.
Obama will head home late Thursday after visiting a US military base to meet American servicemen there.