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Mr. Obama told the troops that the success of South Korea has to do with their “resilience” and hard work, “but it also has to do with you guys.”

“There’s something about this spot such an obvious impact that you’ve had every day,” he said. “We’re grateful to you; we’re proud of you.”

Mr. Obama arrived in South Korea early Sunday to begin three days of talks about nuclear nonproliferation involving leaders from 53 nations and four international organizations, in addition to visiting the DMZ.

It’s the president’s third visit to South Korea.

Although the focus of the international summit will be to prevent terrorists from obtaining nuclear material, Mr. Obama will devote much of his time to discussing ways to reduce tensions with nuclear-armed North Korea and to pressure Iran to stop developing nuclear weapons.

He will give a speech largely devoted to those two nations Monday at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Seoul.

Among those who greeted Mr. Obama upon his arrival in South Korea were Sung Kim, the U.S. ambassador to South Korea; Gen. James D. Thurman, commander of the combined United States, United Nations and Republic of Korea forces; Col. Patrick McKenzie, commander of the 51st Fighter Wing at Osan Air Base; and Chang Jae-bok, deputy chief of protocol for South Korea.

The summit is the largest gathering of foreign heads of state ever to meet in South Korea.