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Lee, Obama to focus on North Korea at summit

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and U.S. President Barack Obama will meet in Washington next Tuesday to coordinate their response to North Korea's security threat and strengthen the two countries' alliance and economic ties, Seoul and Washington announced Monday.

The two leaders will "discuss ways to deepen and develop the Korea-U.S. alliance and deal with North Korea's nuclear and missile issues," Cheong Wa Dae said.

They are expected to codify an enhanced U.S. nuclear and conventional defense guarantee for South Korea in response to Pyongyang's second nuclear test on May 25 and a string of missile tests.

Also on the agenda are the stalled Korea-U.S. free trade agreement, bilateral cooperation in industry, technology and green growth, and global challenges including climate change and the financial crisis, the presidential office said.

Lee and Obama held their first meeting in London on April 2 on the sidelines of the Group of 20 financial crisis summit.

"The Republic of Korea is a close friend and a key ally of the United States," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

"The president looks forward to exploring ways in which the two countries can strengthen cooperation on the regional and global challenges of the 21st century."

Lee will leave for Washington on Monday for a four-day trip. He will meet with senior U.S. officials, Congressional leaders and business executives. Lee will also receive an honorary doctorate from George Washington University.

The two leaders are expected to call for stern international action against North Korea.

Obama last week condemned the North's nuclear test, which violated U.N. resolutions. The North's action could stoke an arms race in East Asia and encourage Iran's nuclear development, thus complicating the Middle East peace process.

"North Korea's actions over the last couple of months have been extraordinarily provocative," he said during a news conference in France following talks with President Nicolas Sarkozy.

"We are not intending to continue a policy of rewarding provocation."

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