At the start of the G20 summit meeting, President Obama tried to calm fears of a currency war and other tensions that have stressed global economic ties recently in a letter released shortly after his arrival in Seoul. In a copy of that letter obtained by Reuters, Obama both reassured world leaders and said that U.S. consumption could no longer be counted on to support economic demand factors. He wrote:
We all now recognize that the foundation for a strong and durable recovery will not materialize if American households stop saving and go back to spending based on borrowing. Yet no one country can achieve our joint objective of a strong, sustainable, and balanced recovery on its own.
He did not mention what the New York Times called two of the most important reasons for economic tension, "China's foreign-exchange interventions and the Federal Reserve's recent decision to inject $600 billion into the economy." While the letter seemed designed to dismiss persistent rumors that the summit will give way to a currency war between the U.S. and China, the BBC reports:
But ahead of the G20 summit, China's President Hu Jintao said countries must "face their own problems".
Latest figures show that China's trade surplus rose to $27bn (£17bn) in October, despite rapid economic growth in the country starting to cool.
Critics blame Beijing for keeping the yuan artificially low, which helps boost exports and has led to China building up massive amounts of foreign reserves.
People with a wide range of agendas gathered throughout Seoul to protest the G20 talks. People For The Ethical Treatment Of Animals (PETA) as well as beef exporters, anti-globalization forces, and immigration law protestors all made appearances.
Obama will attend a G20 working dinner this evening. During his Seoul trip, he will give a Veteran's Day speech at U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan, according to CBS.
President Obama arrived In Seoul from a visit to Indonesia, where he promised to strengthen relations with the Muslim world. He will be leaving for Yokohama, Japan tomorrow to join the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings.
Below, see pictures of Obama's arrival in Seoul, South Korea: