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12 Apr, 2010 21:31

Obama hosts bilateral meetings on summit sidelines

Nearly 50 world leaders have come to Washington to discuss nuclear non-proliferation, but a select few have also had bilateral meetings with US President Barack Obama.

 As the cameras roll on the highly anticipated nuclear security summit, US President Barack Obama meets behind the scenes with world leaders in more than a dozen bilateral meetings to discuss issues of shared concern. So far, Obama has already met with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Jordanian King Abduallah, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, Ukraine’s newly elected President Viktor Yanukovich, and Armenian President Serzh Sargsian before the group dinner. High on Obama's agenda is global cooperation in Afghanistan, poverty, climate change, nuclear security and proliferation and accelerating sanctions against Iran.

However, nuclear security and proliferation were not always top on the agenda for the sideline bilateral meetings as they were for New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, and South African President Zuma, in which Obama praised the three countries for their progress in nuclear disarmament. With Jordanian King Abduallah, Obama discussed the stalled peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians, while Obama's talks with President Hu Jintao of China centered around the currency valuation, US debt and sanctioning Iran. In his meeting, Nazarbayev agreed to allow US overflights as an alternative route to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

However, the bilateral talks were seen by some as a personal welcoming ceremony for countries  the Obama administration find particularly important for military and economic reasons. The Obama administration is splitting its’ condensed time with world leaders between Obama himself, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Every hour is precious during this summit, and so the Obama Administration will be cramming in more meetings throughout Tuesday before the summit wraps up. Additional bilaterals are scheduled with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Analysts say although the administration is pressing for nuclear disarmament and the threat of nuclear terrorism, some of the countries with the most robust relationships with the United States, such as India and Pakistan, are not signatories of the nuclear non proliferation treaty and have active nuclear arsenals aided and to a degree funded by the United States.