U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, on the final leg of a weeklong Asia tour, is holding a series of meetings with South Korean leaders to offer assurances of American support in the face of North Korean threats.
Panetta met Thursday morning with his South Korean counterpart, Kim Kwan-jin. Later he was meeting separately with the country's minister of foreign affairs and with President Lee Myung-bak (lee myuhng bahk).
Panetta said upon his arrival in Seoul on Wednesday that his main message is that the U.S. stands behind its South Korean ally, and that the U.S. will remain a Pacific power despite looming budget reductions.
Separately, the State Department's top Asia policy official, Kurt Campbell, was in Seoul to brief South Korean officials on this week's U.S.-North Korean talks in Geneva.