Biden to visit South Korea and Japan next month as he strives to stay focused on Asia

Biden, the officials said, will hold bilateral meetings with his counterpart in each country: Korean President-elect Yoon Suk Yeol, who is to be sworn in on May 10, and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. In Tokyo, Biden is also expected to meet the leaders of Japan, Australia and India, at a gathering of the Quad Partnership which has been revitalized on his initiative.

The trip is intended “to further deepen the ties between our governments, our economies and our peoples,” press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement. “This trip will advance the Biden-Harris administration’s unwavering commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific and to U.S. treaty alliances with the Republic of Korea and Japan.”

A series of weapons tests by North Korea will threaten the trip, which has worried US officials and demonstrated the hermit kingdom’s lingering threats. The country’s dictator, Kim Jong Un, pledged in a massive military parade this week to ‘strengthen and develop’ his nuclear forces at the ‘highest possible speed’, offering a glimpse of his ambitions for the months ahead. coming.

The four-day trip to Asia comes at a critical time in Biden’s presidency, as he seeks to keep the United States and its allies united against Russia’s unprovoked war on Ukraine amid civilian casualties. growing and escalating fighting. The conflict in Europe has been a burning issue in the president’s second year in office, with the United States pledging billions of dollars in aid to Ukraine and hitting Russia with a series of economic sanctions. Amid Russia’s attacks in Ukraine, Biden stressed that he believes US alliances in the Indo-Pacific are essential to maintaining a “rules-based order” around the world.

At the same time, the conflict has underscored the lingering threats posed by historical enemies like Russia, even as Biden strives to recalibrate US foreign policy toward Asia in an effort to counter China’s growing influence. . Biden is the third consecutive US president to express his desire to pivot to the region, but the trip, coming 16 months into his presidency, is later than most presidents have been to Asia. Biden’s trip has been hampered by the Covid-19 pandemic.

White House aides insist they are able to focus on Asia as the world is consumed by the crisis in Ukraine. And officials say they have been pleasantly surprised by the willingness of US allies in Asia, including Japan and South Korea, to join an international sanctions regime designed to crush Russia’s economy. Japan and South Korea have also diverted some of their natural gas supplies to Europe as it strives to wean itself off Russian energy imports.

Biden spoke on the phone with Yoon, a former conservative prosecutor, last month after he was named the winner of South Korea’s election to replace incumbent President Moon Jae In. During that call, the White House told the At the time, the two men discussed, among other things, the threats posed by North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, and other global issues like Covid-19 and climate change.

North Korea, which Biden identified as his biggest foreign policy challenge early in his presidency, resumed provocative weapons testing ahead of Yoon’s inauguration. The Biden administration has sought to revive diplomacy with Pyongyang, but has received few responses. Yoon, meanwhile, pledged to harden the South Korean line against the North after Moon tried to cultivate diplomacy, including helping then-President Donald Trump hold a series of summits with him. Kim.

During Trump’s last visit to Seoul as president, he made a detour to the demilitarized zone, where he shook hands with Kim and crossed the border line with North Korea. Previous presidents have also made visits to the heavily fortified border area, but it was unclear if Biden was planning a similar stop.

Biden has already had multiple interactions with Kishida this year after the prime minister took office last fall. Most recently, the two leaders attended emergency summits in Brussels, Belgium, in March, convened amid Russian attacks in Ukraine. Earlier that month, the four Quad leaders held a call, during which they agreed to meet in person in Tokyo later that year.

Biden’s visit to South Korea and Japan also comes as US officials closely monitor China’s actions related to the war in Ukraine. The Biden administration has repeatedly stressed that Beijing will face serious consequences if it were to help the Kremlin’s efforts in Ukraine, and has spoken out harshly against Chinese efforts to help spread Russian propaganda and disinformation on the war.

The Asia trip will come days after Biden hosted leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Washington on May 12-13. ASEAN, recognizing its pivotal role in providing lasting solutions to the region’s most pressing challenges, and commemorating 45 years of U.S.-ASEAN relations.”

Comments are closed.