Biden will visit South Korea and Japan next month as he works to keep the focus on Asia 2022-04-27 18:01:00


Officials said Biden will hold bilateral meetings with his counterpart in each country: Korean President-elect Yoon Seok-yeol, who is scheduled to open on May 10, and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. In Tokyo, Biden is also scheduled to meet with the leaders of Japan, Australia and India, at a gathering of the Quadruple Partnership revitalized on his initiative.

Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement that the visit aims to “deepen the relations between our government, our economies and our people.” “This trip will further the Biden-Harris administration’s strong commitment to freedom and openness to the Indo-Pacific and US treaty alliances with the Republic of Korea and Japan.”

Looming over the flight a torrent of Weapons tests by North KoreaThis alarmed US officials and demonstrated the kingdom’s continued entrenched threats. The country’s dictator, Kim Jong Un, vowed during a massive military parade this week to “strengthen and develop” his nuclear power “as quickly as possible”, offering a glimpse of his ambitions for the coming months.

The four-day visit to Asia comes at a critical moment in Biden’s presidency, as he seeks to keep the United States and its allies united against Russia’s unprovoked war on Ukraine amid mounting civilian casualties and intensifying fighting. The conflict in Europe was an all-consuming issue for the president’s second year in office, as the United States committed billions of dollars in aid to Ukraine and imposed a raft of economic sanctions on Russia. Amid the Russian attacks in Ukraine, Biden stressed that he believes US alliances in the Indo-Pacific are key to upholding the “rules-based order” around the world.

At the same time, the conflict has highlighted the persistent threats posed by historical foes such as Russia, even as Biden works to reset US foreign policy toward Asia in an effort to counter China’s growing influence. Biden is the third consecutive US president to express a desire to pivot toward the region, but the trip, 16 months into his presidency, comes after most presidents visited Asia. Biden’s travel has been hampered by covid-19 pandemic.

White House aides insist they can focus on Asia while the crisis in Ukraine engulfs the world. Officials say they were pleasantly surprised by the willingness of US allies in Asia, including Japan and South Korea, to join an international sanctions regime designed to crush the Russian economy. Japan and South Korea have also diverted some of their natural gas supplies to Europe, where they are weaning themselves off Russian energy imports.

Biden spoke with Yoon, a conservative former attorney general, by phone last month after he was named the winner of South Korea’s election to replace outgoing President Moon Jae-in. During that call, the White House said at the time, the pair discussed, among other things, the threats posed by North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, and other global issues such as Covid-19 and climate change.

North Korea, which Biden described as his biggest foreign policy challenge early in his presidency, resumed provocative weapons tests before Yun’s inauguration. The Biden administration has sought to resume diplomacy with Pyongyang, but has received little response. Meanwhile, Yoon vowed to toughen South Korea’s stance against North Korea after Moon made attempts to cultivate diplomacy — including helping then-President Donald Trump arrange a series of summits with Kim.

During Trump’s recent visit to Seoul as president, he made a detour to the demilitarized zone, where Kim and I climbed above the demarcation line in North Korea. Previous presidents have also made visits to the heavily fortified border region, but it was not clear if Biden was planning a similar stop.

Biden has already had several 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, which took place amid Russian attacks in Ukraine. Earlier that month, the Quartet leaders made a call, agreeing to meet in person in Tokyo later in the year.

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

The Asia trip comes days after Biden hosted leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Washington on May 12-13. Announcing that summit, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the meeting “will demonstrate the United States’ enduring commitment to ASEAN, recognizing its central role in providing sustainable solutions to the region’s most pressing challenges, and to celebrate 45 years of US-ASEAN relations.” East Asia “.