As part of her visit and the anniversary celebration, Mr. Russell said, Ms. Park planned visits to Arlington National Cemetery and the Korean War Veterans Memorial, and she will host a dinner for U.S. veterans and others who have contributed to the alliance. She also plans to address both houses of Congress.
North Korea on front burner
Headlines out of Tuesday’s meeting are likely to focus on South Korea’s growing impatience with the wave of antagonistic rhetoric and nuclear threats from North Korea’s 28-year-old leader, Kim Jong-un.
But there are questions about whether the South Korean president sees eye to eye with Mr. Obama on North Korea.
Before her victory as the democracy’s first female president in December, there was concern in some circles in Washington over the extent to which Ms. Park might subvert collective international resistance to North Korea by seeking a less restrictive posture toward Pyongyang.
During her presidential campaign, she suggested an eagerness to reverse a hard-knuckle approach embraced by her predecessor, Lee Myung-bak, who moved to halt aid to the North amid frustration over Pyongyang’s belligerence in recent years.
Ms. Park’s message resonated among a portion of South Korean voters holding out hope for a North-South reunification.
She has faced other challenges on the domestic front, including a struggle to overcome public perceptions of her as the daughter of former South Korean President Park Chung-hee, who was elected to rule from 1963 to 1979 after initially seizing power in a military coup.
How such factors play into the evolving relationship between Seoul and Washington remains to be seen.
Friction over Japan
The economic discussion Tuesday is likely to center around whether and when South Korea may join the U.S.-backed Trans-Pacific Partnership, an 11-nation free-trade pact aimed at deepening the economic link between U.S. allies in the Western Hemisphere and Asia.
Japan recently made a public commitment to join the pact — a move that would dramatically expand the partnership’s overall global influence. But having Japan on board could lessen South Korea’s desire to join.