Obama focuses on curbing North Korea's nuclear ambitions

Obama focuses on curbing North Korea's nuclear ambitions
President Obama on Thursday stressed the importance of curbing North Korea’s nuclear ambitions ahead of a series of meetings with Asian leaders in Washington. 
 
Obama is set to meet with leaders of China, Japan and South Korea at a nuclear security summit in the nation’s capital attended by dozens of world leaders.  
 
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It’s the last such summit of Obama’s presidency, and he’s looking to address nuclear threats in Asia and the Middle East. 
 
“The international community must remain united in the face of North Korea’s continued provocations, including its recent nuclear test and missile launches,” the president wrote in an op-ed in The Washington Post on Thursday.
 
Preventing terrorist groups like the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) from obtaining nuclear materials has dominated talk ahead of the summit. Those concerns have risen following this month's terror attacks in Brussels. 
 
Two suspects in those attacks were found to have been tracking a Belgian nuclear scientist, prompting concerns about whether the group is seeking nuclear materials. 
 
But growing concerns about North Korea’s nuclear program are also a major part of the agenda. Fears about the rogue state’s ambitions have risen following a recent nuclear test and rocket launch that violated international rules.
 
Obama is sitting down for a rare joint meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Park Geun-hye. Both are U.S. allies who have backed new United Nations sanctions against North Korea. 
 
Those punishments “show that violations have consequences,” Obama wrote. “The United States will continue working with allies and partners for the complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in a peaceful manner.”
 
The president’s meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to be more tense. The U.S. and China have frequently clashed over cyber hacking, human rights and maritime claims in the South China Sea. 
 
But as one of North Korea’s few allies, China’s involvement in the anti-nuclear effort is critical. The country backed the new U.N. sanctions, but Obama is expected to urge Xi to put them into place. 
 
China is also expected to urge the U.S. to reopen diplomatic talks with the North over its nuclear program.