- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 2, 2009

LONDON (AP) - President Barack Obama says he and his South Korean counterpart plan are discussing “peace and stability” on the Korean peninsula as tensions grow over a planned North Korea rocket launch.

Obama spoke briefly to reporters at the start of his meeting with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak (lee myuhng bahk). The two leaders were meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 summit on the world economy.

The U.S. president says South Korea is one of America’s “closest allies and greatest friends.”

Obama says the two leaders planned to talk about economic matters and climate change along with security matters. He ignored a shouted question about North Korea’s impending rocket launch.

The U.S. considers such plans to be a provocative act.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

LONDON (AP) _ After dropping in at the palace and dining late at 10 Downing St., President Barack Obama on Thursday launched into economic summitry and more first-time meetings with key U.S. allies.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown greeted Obama at London’s ExCel conference center ahead of a breakfast meeting Thursday. The G-20 summit brings together the world’s major economies, where leaders hope to approve language vowing tough, coordinated rules for financial markets, plus efforts to spark global recovery, while avoiding costly trade disputes.

Obama told reporters the summit will reflect “enormous consensus” on how to grapple with the world’s gravest economic crisis since World War II.

Ahead of the Thursday session, the president was sitting down for the first time with his South Korean counterpart, Lee Myung-bak, amid intelligence reports that North Korea is poised to launch an advanced missile. Pyongyang says it’s a satellite launch, but Washington suspects a test of nuclear-capable technology and calls any launch “provocative.”

Obama also has meetings scheduled with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah. He will likely reassure Singh about plans to boost aid to India’s rival, Pakistan. With the Saudi leader, oil prices and Middle East peace efforts are on the agenda, with perhaps a delicate question about the king’s recent shake-up in succession plans.

On Wednesday, Obama had his introduction to British royalty with an audience at Buckingham Palace. He and his wife, Michelle, were presented to Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh.

Most noteworthy about the meeting may have been a gift Obama gave the queen: an iPod loaded with classic show tunes, including several from “Camelot,” which was based on the King Arthur legend, and “My Fair Lady,” which was set in London.

Afterward, the queen posed with all the G-20 leaders for a summit class picture. Then each drove in a separate motorcade to 10 Downing St., Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s official residence.

Dinner was served up by “Naked Chef” cookbook author Jamie Oliver: Welsh lamb and seasonal vegetables with Irish soda bread on the side. Obama was glimpsed briefly at a table chatting with Germany’s Angela Merkel and South Korea’s Lee.

His meetings Wednesday included Russian President Dmitri Medvedev, with whom Obama agreed to seek a new treaty slashing nuclear stockpiles, and Chinese President Hu Jintao.

Obama plans to visit Moscow in July and China later in the year.

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