Lee Starts Meetings with World Leaders

      November 11, 2010 07:49

      President Lee Myung-bak on Wednesday met with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ahead of the G20 Summit in Seoul. The official schedule starts with a working dinner on Thursday, and a plenary session will be held only on Friday. Lee will have nine bilateral meetings with heads of government on the sidelines of the event.

      On Thursday he meets U.S. President Barack Obama for some three hours including lunch and a joint press conference, whereas the other summits take on average 30 minutes. The key issue is a free trade agreement between the two countries that has been stuck in their parliaments since 2007. Both seem determined to wrap up the deal at the summit, but both face political opposition at home.

      From left, U.S. President Barack Obama, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Argentine President Cristina Fernández, and Mexican President Felipe Calderón

      Lee next meets Chinese President Hu Jintao for about 20 minutes. A government official said there are "no urgent issues" between them, and Lee already met Hu three times this year and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao twice over the past month.

      Lee will try to broker a truce between Obama and Hu on their currency dispute, the biggest issue for the G20 Summit.

      The summit itself takes up most of Friday, so Lee will only have time to meet French President Nicolas Sarkozy that day. Officials from the two countries are in the final stage of talks to resolve the issue of France's return of royal Korean texts looted during a botched invasion in the 19th century.

      On Thursday, Lee also meets outgoing Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to discuss Brazil's high-speed train project worth W23 trillion (US$1=W1,111). Another matter of interest is cooperation on development of natural resources in Brazil.

      On Saturday morning, he meets Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, when the two are expected to seal a W10 trillion contract to build a nuclear power plant on coast of the Black Sea.

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