Both U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao will hold back-to-back meetings with leaders from other countries during the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul next Monday and Tuesday. The summit brings together leaders from 53 countries as well as the four major international organizations, including UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
In addition to the official agenda, the meeting therefore offers an unrivaled opportunity for impromptu conversations and bilateral and multilateral meetings. Some 200 bilateral summits are expected to take place on the sidelines.
Obama only visits Korea this time without any stopovers on the way. A Cheong Wa Dae official said it is rare for the U.S. president to visit just one country and stay for three days.
Obama will visit a U.S. military base on the heavily fortified border with North Korea and either go jogging with the troops there or have a meal with them to show his support. He is also to deliver a speech at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies. "The fact that Obama is staying in Korea for three days even though he is busy with his re-election campaign shows how much importance he places on the Nuclear Security Summit, whose creation he spearheaded," a diplomatic source said. "He probably also felt it could help his campaign if he visits a U.S. military base in the demilitarized zone."
Hu will be here for four days, two more days than during his three previous visits. The diplomatic source said Hu probably decided to stay longer so he can keep the possible formation of a nuclear security regime led by Washington in check. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev also plan to attend the summit.
European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, IAEA Chief Yukia Amano, and Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble are also coming. That makes Seoul the gathering place for the largest number of world leaders after the UN General Assembly.
The leaders of 12 countries, including the Netherlands, Spain, Chile and Thailand, as well as the chief representatives of eight other countries will be making their first visits to Korea.