Also on the table is the ongoing discussion about a free-trade agreement with South Korea, which has been pending for two years. The U.S.-South Korea free-trade agreement, known as KORUS FTA, was signed in 2007 but has not been ratified by the two nations because of disputes about access to auto markets and barriers on beef trade.
The Obama administration's position has been that the president will not send the trade agreement to Congress for ratification until South Korea agrees to open its markets to U.S. autos and other export products.
In remarks to the U.S.-Korea Business Council last week, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said the Obama administration is working toward a resolution, but it is up to South Korea to make concessions.
"Our market is open to Korean autos," Kirk said. "All we are asking for is for our own auto companies to be able to compete on a level playing field in the Korean market."
A bipartisan group of members of Congress sent a letter to Obama last week urging him to quickly ratify the trade deal with South Korea but some Democrats on Capitol Hill are concerned that the agreement would result in a backlash from labor unions.
"South Korea is the world's 14th largest economy and is already our seventh largest trading partner," the bipartisan congressional group wrote in its letter to Obama. "KORUS is the most economically beneficial trade agreement the United States has negotiated in 15 years."
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is pushing the Obama administration to quickly wrap up the trade agreement and says jobs are on the line.
"Nearly 350,000 American jobs are at risk if this trade accord with Korea isn't approved," said Myron Brilliant, the Chamber's senior vice president of international affairs and outgoing U.S.-Korea Business Council president.
"As U.S. unemployment hits double digits, this agreement is an immediate job-creating stimulus."
Kirk acknowledged that the trade agreement "has the potential to bring significant economic and strategic benefits to both countries" but did not signal that any agreement was on the horizon.
Froman, the deputy national security adviser for international economic affairs, said Obama "looks forward to having a discussion with the Koreans" on the free-trade agreement but did not indicate that any resolution was pending.
The president will also visit U.S. troops stationed in South Korea before heading back to Washington next Thursday.
White House officials noted on a conference call with reporters this week that Obama is the first president with "an Asia-Pacific orientation," pointing to his upbringing in Hawaii and Indonesia, although he'll bypass the county this trip.
"He understands that the future of our prosperity and our security is very much tied to this part of the world," Rhodes said.