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US President in South Korea for G20 Leaders' Summit


President Barack Obama walks past South Korean honor guard members as he arrives to attend the G20 Summit in Seoul, South Korea, 10 Nov 2010

President Barack Obama walks past South Korean honor guard members as he arrives to attend the G20 Summit in Seoul, South Korea, 10 Nov 2010

President Obama is in South Korea. He will meet with that country's president and other leaders, prior to Thursday evening's opening of the Group of 20 summit.

Mr. Obama faces a potential contentious couple of days here. Discussions by deputies working on the communiqué for the leaders' summit have been heated, according to officials of the host South Korean government. The Group of 20 is mired in disagreement about how to address trade imbalances and exchange rates.

In a speech in Jakarta, earlier in the day, Mr. Obama hailed the G20 as the premier global forum for addressing such issues.

"Gone are the days when seven or eight countries could come together to determine the direction of global markets. That is why the G20 is now the center of international economic cooperation, so that emerging economies like Indonesia have a greater voice and bear greater responsibility," he said.

Mr. Obama is likely to find himself on the defensive in meetings with leaders of other economic powers, which are complaining they will be hurt by the U.S. Federal Reserve's steps to stimulate America's economy.

On Thursday, after talks with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, Mr. Obama meets separately with Chinese President Hu Jintao and Germany's chancellor, Angela Merkel.

The United States and Europe want Beijing to raise the value of its currency, to trim the Chinese trade surplus.

Amid plans for widespread protests in Seoul from Thursday, officials here have mobilized their largest-ever peace-time security force. Authorities say 50,000 police, including thousands trained to repel rioters, have been deployed onto the streets of the capital.

At the conclusion of the G20 summit, some of the leaders, including Mr. Obama, will head to Yokohama, Japan, for the annual meeting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation group. The 21-member APEC talks, Saturday and Sunday, are to discuss moves to tie the region's economies closer together, including looking at the feasibility of an American-proposed multi-national free trade agreement.

The president began his Asia trip with three days in India, before spending less than 24 hours in his boyhood home, Indonesia. He returns to Washington, Sunday.

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