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Washington nuclear summit begins with focus on N Korea

North Korea will be in focus during talks on the first day of a major security summit hosted by President Barack Obama in Washington Thursday.

Washington nuclear summit begins with focus on N Korea

The US president is set to start the nuclear security summit by meeting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Park Geun-Hye, followed by a separate sit-down with President Xi Jinping of China.

It is expected that Pyongyang's threats following the detonation of a nuclear device in January and a long-range rocket launch in the next month will be high on the agenda during the meeting of the world leaders.

Sources said that the White House will keep up pressure on the North Korean regime by imposing economic and diplomatic sanction on the isolated communist nation.

Obama, Abe and Park may call for the rigorous implementation of recently agreed sanctions against North Korea. It is notable that the US and South Korea have already started discussions on deployment of THAAD - the Theater High Altitude Area Defense System, a sophisticated missile system.

"I think the three leaders will clearly demonstrate their unity in our commitment and our firm resolve to deter and defend against North Korean aggression," said Dan Kritenbrink, a top Obama advisor on Asia.

Obama is also scheduled to meet Xi later in the day. This is going to be his only full bilateral meeting with the dozens of world leaders coming to Washington. Obama will also hold a "brief" meeting with France's President Francois Hollande.

China without doubt holds key to making sanctions against North Korea bite. "We've seen China step up in many ways in terms of applying pressure," said Obama foreign policy aide Ben Rhodes, praising the passage of UN sanctions.