U.S. President Barack Obama is hosting a
summit of 47 countries for unprecedented nuclear security talks aimed at
developing a strategy to keep weapons out of the hands of terrorists. The
two-day conference in Washington opens later Monday, and is the largest
gathering of world leaders hosted by the U.S. in more than six decades.
President Obama says terrorists obtaining a nuclear weapon is the "single biggest threat" to U.S. security.
Mr. Obama told reporters Sunday that terrorist groups like al-Qaida are trying to secure nuclear weapons, and if they succeed it could change the global security landscape for years to come. He said terrorists would not hesitate to use those weapons.
Mr. Obama hopes to enlist other nations to help secure all loose nuclear materials, items that could cause harm if they fell into the hands of terrorists, within four years.
North Korea, Iran, and Syria, much criticized by the West for their suspected nuclear agendas, were not invited to the summit.
The president has been holding bilateral meetings with a number of summit participants.
On Sunday, he met separately with leaders from nuclear rivals India and Pakistan, as well as from Kazakhstan and South Africa, two countries he said have helped in the effort to restrain the spread of nuclear weapons.
Mr. Obama has bilateral meetings planned Monday with leaders from Jordan, Malaysia, Armenia, Ukraine and China.
The White House also has announced that Mr. Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will meet Tuesday, just a week after Turkey returned its ambassador to Washington. The ambassador was recalled to protest a vote by a committee of the U.S. Congress on a resolution that calls the World War One-era killing of Armenians a "genocide."
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu canceled plans to attend the summit, sending the country's atomic energy minister instead, because of concerns that his country's undeclared nuclear weapons program would become a central topic. Turkey's prime minister said Sunday the world is turning a blind eye to Israel's nuclear program, and he vowed to raise the issue.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.
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