President Lee Myung-bak has a hectic diplomatic schedule this weekend and next week with dozens of summit talks with world leaders here on a wide range of areas including security, trade and business.
Lee plans to hold top-level bilateral talks with leaders of 25 countries, the U.N. and the EU from Saturday through Thursday on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit at COEX in southern Seoul from Monday through Tuesday.
It is the largest number of the summit meetings a South Korean president has ever had during an international gathering. Lee had 10 summit talks during the Group of 20 summit in Seoul in 2010. Former President Kim Dae-jung held 14 summits during the Asia Europe Meeting here in 2000.
President Lee Myung-bak and related officials look around key conference facilities during his visit to COEX in Seoul on Thursday to take stock of preparations for the upcoming Nuclear Security Summit. ( Yonhap News)
The premier gathering on preventing nuclear terrorism and proliferation and enhancing the security of the nuclear industry will bring together nearly 60 top officials representing 53 countries and four international organizations including the International Atomic Energy Agency and International Criminal Police Organization.
During the talks with leaders of regional stakeholders, Lee is expected to discuss escalated tensions sparked by North Korea’s announcement last week that it would launch a satellite on a long-range rocket in mid-April.
Lee will hold talks with U.S. President Barack Obama, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Chinese President Hu Jintao. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda is to attend the nuclear summit, but will not meet Lee for bilateral talks reportedly because of his short stay here.
During the talks with the leaders, Lee is expected to call for their support to persuade Pyongyang not to launch what it calls a satellite. South Korea has warned against the planned rocket launch, calling it a “grave provocation” in violation of the U.N. Security Council Resolution 1874 that bans the use of ballistic missile technology.
With his Chinese counterpart, Lee is to talk about the negotiations over the bilateral free trade pact and ways to deepen their relations on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of their diplomatic ties.
Lee and his Moscow counterpart are expected to discuss the large-scale gas pipeline project involving Russia and the two Koreas and their cooperation in the development of Siberia and Russia’s Far East region.
In meetings with other leaders of the countries participating in the nuclear summit, Lee is expected to discuss a variety of regional and global issues such as security, global governance, expansion of free trade, climate change and green growth, Seoul officials said.
The countries include Kazakhstan, Jordan, Georgia, South Africa, Romania, Ukraine, Chile, Turkey, Australia, Spain, Denmark, the Netherlands and Italy.
During the talks with European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, Lee is expected to discuss the effective implementation of the Korea-EU free trade agreement, which took effect last year, and security issues including those concerning North Korea, Seoul officials said.
By Song Sang-ho