166 businessmen accompany Park

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166 businessmen accompany Park

President Park Geun-hye will be accompanied by the largest-ever Korean business delegation on her visit to the United States from Tuesday to Friday, according to the Blue House on Sunday.

Park and U.S. President Barack Obama will hold their summit in the White House, followed by a luncheon and joint press conference on Friday, said Ju Chul-ki, senior presidential secretary for foreign affairs, in a briefing.

“Holding the summit this year, which marks the 70th anniversary of Korea’s liberation and the division [of the Korean Peninsula], is expected to be an opportunity [for the leaders] to exchange in-depth opinions, not only on the South Korea-U.S. alliance, but also on peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia,” Ju said.

The two sides are expected to adopt a joint statement with a strong message on the North Korean nuclear issue and also a joint fact sheet on bilateral relations.

The president will be accompanied during the four-day trip to Washington by an economic delegation of 166 businessmen from 164 companies and agencies, according to Ahn Jong-beom, senior presidential secretary for economic affairs.

This is three times the size of the delegation that accompanied Park on her U.S. trip in 2013, which had 51 business leaders.

Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said that the delegation includes SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won, Hanjin Group Chairman Cho Yang-ho and Park Yong-man, chairman of Doosan Group and head of the Korea Chamber of Commerce & Industry.

Park’s upcoming summit with Obama is the fourth of its kind. Park, who came into office in February 2013, had her first presidential trip to Washington in May that year.

Park will kick off her trip by offering a wreath at the Korean War Veterans Memorial on Wednesday in Washington and then head to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) later in the day. Her visit to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center is a move “to bolster bilateral space cooperation,” Ju said.

A dinner will be hosted that night for Korean-Americans and other individuals who have contributed to the U.S.-Korea alliance.

On Thursday, Park will make her first visit to the U.S. Department of Defense, where she is expected to reconfirm the Korea-U.S. defense posture with Pentagon officials.

This will mark the second visit by a Korean president to the Pentagon, following former President Lee Myung-bak’s visit in October 2011.

Park is also invited to Vice President Joe Biden’s residence for a luncheon. It is rare for the vice president to invite foreign dignitaries to his residence. 

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

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