Today, President Barack Obama continued his visit to South Korea, where he held bilateral meetings with President Hu Jintao of China, President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan, and President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia.
More than 50 world leaders are currently attending the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit in South Korea. Speaking at Hankuk University in Seoul, President Obama provided an update on continued efforts to stop the spread of nuclear weapons and outlined why he has made this a foreign policy priority. President Obama said:
"...In short, the international community has made it harder than ever for terrorists to acquire nuclear weapons, and that has made us all safer. We're building an international architecture that can ensure nuclear safety. But we're under no illusions. We know that nuclear material, enough for many weapons, is still being stored without adequate protection. And we know that terrorists and criminal gangs are still trying to get their hands on it -- as well as radioactive material for a dirty bomb. We know that just the smallest amount of plutonium -- about the size of an apple -- could kill hundreds of thousands and spark a global crisis. The danger of nuclear terrorism remains one of the greatest threats to global security. And that's why here in Seoul, we need to keep at it."
This trip marks President Obama's third visit to South Korea as President, which he noted, saying, "...I've now been to Seoul more times than any other capital -- except for Washington, D.C., of course. This reflects the extraordinary bonds between our two countries and our commitment to each other." In his remarks at Hankuk University, President Obama spoke about this commitment. He said:
"The currents of history cannot be held back forever. The deep longing for freedom and dignity will not go away. So, too, on this divided peninsula. The day all Koreans yearn for will not come easily or without great sacrifice. But make no mistake, it will come. And when it does, change will unfold that once seemed impossible. And checkpoints will open and watchtowers will stand empty, and families long separated will finally be reunited. And the Korean people, at long last, will be whole and free. Like our vision of a world without nuclear weapons, our vision of a Korea that stands as one may not be reached quickly. But from this day until then, and all the days that follow, we take comfort in knowing that the security we seek, the peace we want, is closer at hand because of the great alliance between the United States and the Republic of Korea and because we stand for the dignity and freedom of all Koreans. And no matter the test, no matter the trial, we stand together. We work together. We go together. Katchi kapshida!"
You can learn more about President Obama's trip to South Korea on the White House Blog. Follow the Twitter accounts @usembassyseoul and @eAsiaMediaHub and the hashtag #NSS2012 and go to www.state.gov for more information on the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit.