SEOUL, South Korea
President Barack Obama was touting economic and military ties to South Korea today, a show of U.S. influence in the region amid China’s growing power and nuclear threats from North Korea.
Obama kicked off the second day of his overnight trip to Seoul in a meeting with business leaders aimed at promoting trade between the two nations. The remainder of his day focused on military matters, with a speech to some of the 28,000 American service members stationed here and a rare joint secur- ity briefing with South Korea’s president.
Obama told more than a dozen corporate executives gathered in a conference room at the Grand Hyatt where he spent the night that the U.S. and South Korea are going to have “one of the key economic relationships of the 21st century.” The executives represented businesses including Hyundai, Samsung, Korean Air, Microsoft, Boeing, Goldman Sachs and others.
“As important as the security relationship is and the alliance is between the Republic of Korea and the United States, what is also important is the incredible and growing economic ties that are creating jobs and opportunity in both countries,” Obama said.
Obama arrived in South Korea on Friday, the second stop on his four-country swing through Asia. After events in Seoul today, the president will travel to Malaysia, where he’ll attend a dinner with the royal family.
While in Seoul, Obama paid tribute to victims from last week’s ferry disaster. The vast majority of the 300 dead or missing were students from a single high school near the capital city.