Lee to attend nuke summit

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Lee to attend nuke summit

President Lee Myung-bak will travel to Washington and attend the nuclear security summit there next week, the Blue House said yesterday.

According to presidential spokeswoman Kim Eun-hye, Lee will leave for the U.S. capital city on Sunday and return home on April 14. During his stay in Washington, Lee will attend the nuclear summit hosted by U.S. President Barack Obama, and meet with Korean War veterans in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the start of the war.

“President Lee will emphasize strategic approaches in dealing with countries that have differing nuclear statuses,” the Blue House said in a press release. “The president is also planning to engage in active publicity activities about Korea’s advanced nuclear power plant operating system and nuclear security structure.”

According to Kim, Lee will promote Korea’s peaceful use of nuclear energy during the summit, scheduled to take place April 12 and 13.

“Korea has the fifth-largest nuclear industry, with 20 reactors in operation,” Kim said. “The president hopes to gain international confidence for Korea’s exemplary practices in the field and use the summit to further develop Korea’s nuclear industry.”

A senior presidential official said North Korea’s nuclear arms program will be discussed at the summit, although it is not a main topic.

“The international community is highly interested in the nuclear issues of Iran and the North, so I believe it will be covered to some extent,” he said.

Kim also said Lee has decided to defer a visit to quake-stricken Haiti and a trip to Mexico for a summit scheduled to take place after the nuclear conference because he wants to concentrate efforts to conclude the investigation into the recent sinking of the South Korean Navy patrol corvette Cheonan.

According to the senior official, Lee won’t be sitting down for a bilateral summit with the U.S. president on the sidelines of the multilateral nuclear security forum.

“We have had a number of bilateral summits with the U.S. president, and the two leaders have had a number of telephone conversations,” the official said. “Lee and Obama, I am sure, will have the opportunity to talk since they will sit next to each other during the first session of the second day of the nuclear summit.”

In addition to Obama, 46 heads of state and representatives from the United Nations, International Atomic Energy Agency and the European Union will attend the summit to reach an understanding about the potential threats of nuclear terrorism and to discuss what individual countries and international cooperation can do to respond to those threats.

Ahead of his trip to Washington, Lee will have an interview with the Washington Post this week. On the sidelines of summit, Lee will also be interviewed by CNN.

By Ser Myo-ja [myoja@joongang.co.kr]
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