President Barack Obama is welcoming the leader of South Korea to the White House in a display of unity between close allies planning to deter nuclear-armed North Korea while leaving the door available to negotiation.
Friday's visit by South Korea President Park Geun-hye follows increased stress during this summer season at the heavily militarized border between the two Koreas, and speculation that North Korea could be preparing another rocket launch into space or a nuclear test explosion in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions.
Park has actually cultivated closer relations with China as she seeks to coax Beijing away from its conventional welcome of Pyongyang. Last month, she prompted handwringing in Washington when she went to a Chinese military parade marking the end of World War II that was snubbed by leaders of the world's most significant democracies.
Friday's White House conference and working lunch with Obama is an opportunity to reveal that the diplomatic overture to Beijing hasn't weakened South Korea's strong ties with the U.S., which maintains 28,500 soldiers in South Korea, a leftover of the 1950-53 Korean War and that it ended with a truce but not a peace treaty.
Park and Obama are expected to compare notes on their respective recent conferences with Chinese President Xi Jinping. They'll likewise go over the often-touchy relations among China, Japan and South Korea, whose leaders are to hold a long-awaited summit in Seoul in early November. Park stated Thursday that the summit will be an opportunity to enhance South Korea's relations with another crucial U.S. ally, Japan, which would please the Washington administration.
But it's North Korea that will top the agenda at the White House, and little is very likely to alter in the allies' stance: standing firm versus the risk of any North Korean provocations while continuing to be open to aid-for-disarmament talks if Pyongyang shows it is sincere about the goal of abandoning nuclear weapons. The North's leader, Kim Jong Un, nevertheless, reveals little hunger to engage on those terms.
The Obama administration has actually integrated with long time foes Cuba and Myanmar, and created a nuclear deal with Iran, but the administration has actually faced criticism from hawks and doves alike for a lack of high-level attention on North Korea. The North has actually performed 3 nuclear tests since 2006 and is developing a mobile ballistic missile that might possibly strike the United States.
. In August, the two Koreas threatened each other with war after two South Korean soldiers were injured by mines, Seoul states were planted by the North. The animosity has actually abated since, and the two sides have actually agreed to resume next week reunions of Korean households divided by the Korean War.