At the same time, the U.S. military is seeking to redirect resources to the Asia-Pacific as it draws down its commitment in Afghanistan, though there is concern that budget cuts could threaten plans to base 60 percent of U.S. naval assets in the region. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert recently warned that U.S. capabilities to project power "would not stay ahead" of potential adversaries, given the fiscal restraints.
Earlier Saturday, Obama promoted trade between the U.S. and South Korea with executives from businesses including Hyundai, Samsung, Korean Air, Microsoft, Boeing, Goldman Sachs and others. "As important as the security relationship is and the alliance is between the Republic of Korea and the United States, what is also important is the incredible and growing economic ties that are creating jobs and opportunity in both countries," Obama said.
While in Seoul, Obama has paid tribute to victims from last week's ferry disaster. The vast majority of the 300 dead or missing were students from a single high school near the capital city.
As he departed Yongsan Garrison, Obama stopped to greet a group of schoolchildren, including a girl holding a bright orange sign reading, "Mr. President, may I have a selfie with you?" The president smiled and greeted her, but didn't take a picture.
Associated Press writers Darlene Superville in Seoul and Matthew Pennington in Washington contributed to this report.
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