Park to attend Nuclear Security Summit in US

March 15, 2016

SEOUL (Yonhap) — President Park Geun-hye plans to attend the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington later this month, Cheong Wa Dae said Wednesday, amid growing tension with North Korea over its nuclear and missile programs.

Park and dozens of world leaders are expected to exchange opinions on how to strengthen cooperation for nuclear safety during the summit set for March 31-April 1, the South Korean presidential office said.

The biennial summit is meant to discuss ways to reduce the stockpile of highly enriched uranium and weapons-grade plutonium, to keep it out of the hands of terrorists and to ensure atomic safety.

Still, North Korea’s nuclear issue will likely be discussed at the summit as Pyongyang has recently upped the ante in its nuclear standoff with the international community.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has said his country will conduct “a nuclear warhead explosion test and a test-fire of several kinds of ballistic rockets able to carry nuclear warheads” soon, according to the North’s state media.

Pyongyang was recently slapped with tougher U.N. sanctions for carrying out its fourth nuclear test on Jan. 6 and a long-range rocket launch on Feb. 7.

The two-day gathering will be the final session of the summit, which has been held every two years since U.S. President Barack Obama hosted the inaugural summit in 2010.

Park plans to hold separate meetings with some of the leaders on the sidelines, the presidential office said, without elaborating.

The trip also will take Park to Mexico for a summit with President Enrique Pena Nieto. The two leaders are expected to discuss a wide range of issues, as well as how to cooperate for the faithful and effective implementation of the U.N. sanctions.

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