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Obama to meet with Japan's Abe, South Korea's Park next week

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[March 22, 2014]  WASHINGTON (Reuters)  President Barack Obama will meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Park Geun-hye on the sidelines of a nuclear summit in The Hague next week, the White House said.

"We believe this is a very important message to show the United States aligned with our two most important allies in northeast Asia," White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said.

"It's a signal of our commitment to the security of northeast Asia and our belief that when the United States and our allies stand together, we are all much stronger in the region and in the world," Rhodes said.

The meeting comes "after a period of tension," national security adviser Susan Rice said.

Ties between South Korea and Japan have been cool over anger in South Korea that Japanese leaders have not atoned for the country's wartime aggression, including forcing Korean and other Asian women into sexual slavery during World War II.

(Reporting by Mark Felsenthal and Jeff Mason; editing by Sandra Maler)

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