South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and U.S. President Joe Biden will hold their first summit on Saturday, with North Korea issues and economic cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region at the top of the agenda.
Yoon, who was sworn in as president on May 10, will have the earliest-ever bilateral summit with an American counterpart. Biden embarked Thursday on a five-day visit to Asia that will also take him to Japan. It marks Biden’s first trip to the region since taking office last year.
U.S. President Joe Biden (L) and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol pose for a photo as they visit a Samsung Electronics Co. chip plant in the suburbs of Seoul on May 20, 2022. (Photo courtesy of South Korea’s presidential office)(Kyodo)
Amid escalated tensions on the Korean Peninsula following several rounds of missile launches from North Korea, Yoon and Biden are expected to discuss ways to strengthen deterrence against the reclusive country that is seen to have completed preparations for another nuclear test.
In case any major provocation from Pyongyang occurs during Biden’s visit to Seoul, the two leaders will command the combined forces of their countries as a “plan B,” according to South Korea’s presidential office.
In the latest round of missile launches, North Korea fired three short-range ballistic missiles on May 12, marking the third launch this month.
Yoon, in marked contrast to his predecessor Moon Jae In, is known for his hard-line stance on North Korea, and has been emphasizing the importance of trilateral security cooperation involving the United States and Japan.
The South Korean leader may also announce during his talks with Biden Seoul’s participation in the Indo-Pacific economic framework, known as IPEF, so as to strengthen cooperation with Washington on building “resilient” global supply chains for semiconductors.
The Biden administration has proposed the IPEF as a key vehicle for U.S. engagement in a region expected to drive global growth for years to come.
The U.S. leader will fly to Japan on Sunday to meet with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida the following day, during which the launch of the IPEF is expected to be formally announced.
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