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Obama in Korea: warmer welcome than in China, Japan?

Obama is expected to receive a warm welcome in South Korea, where top issues on agenda are North Korea talks and a free trade agreement.

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President Barack Obama takes part in a welcoming ceremony upon arriving in Seoul, Wednesday.

Jim Young/Reuters

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President Barack Obama can expect the warmest reception of his swing through East Asia Thursday morning when he meets South Korea's conservative President Lee Myung-bak – a welcome contrast to tense summits in China and Japan as well as talks with other Asian leaders at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Singapore.

Fresh from difficult sessions with China's President Hu Jintao, Mr. Obama flew into Osan Air Force base south of Seoul on Wednesday evening eager to face the leader of a conservative government fully committed to getting North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program and strengthening the US-Korean alliance.

The sense here is that relations between Washington and Seoul have vastly improved since disagreements on North Korea and differences with Mr. Lee's presidential predecessors, Roh Moo-hyun and Kim Dae-jung, both of whom flew to Pyongyang for summits with North Korea's leader Kim Jong-il.

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