WASHINGTON (AFP) - US President Barack Obama will this week meet Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Park Geun-Hye on the sidelines of a nuclear security summit, with North Korea on the agenda, the White House said Monday.
The trilateral meeting on Thursday in Washington comes the same day that Obama is scheduled to meet one-on-one with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
"This meeting will be an opportunity for the three leaders to discuss common responses to the threat posed by North Korea and to advance areas of trilateral security cooperation in the region and globally," the White House said.
On Thursday and Friday, Obama will welcome top-level delegations from dozens of countries - including Xi, Park, Abe and other heads of state - to discuss thorny nuclear safety concerns.
The fear that Islamic State in Syria and Iraq (ISIS) militants could obtain nuclear material is expected to weigh heavily on the summit agenda.
The summit itself will not address issues related to North Korea's recent weapons tests, but may touch on stopping the provision of nuclear materials to the country which could be used to develop weapons.
In his talks with Park and Abe, Obama is sure to discuss the ramped-up rhetoric coming from North Korea, which carried out a nuclear test in January and a long-range rocket launch a month later, triggering new international sanctions.
Pyongyang has been pushing to acquire a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) capability which would take its nuclear strike threat to a new level, allowing deployment far beyond the Korean peninsula and the potential to retaliate in the event of a nuclear attack.
It has conducted a number of what it says were successful tests of an SLBM, but experts have questioned the claim, suggesting Pyongyang had gone little further than a "pop-up" test from a submerged platform.
North Korea is also sure to figure in the talks between Obama and Xi. China is Pyongyang's only ally.
US policymakers have pushed Beijing to put pressure on the country to stop its nuclear provocations, but China is concerned about the stability of its neighbour.