Biden seeking 'new era' in trilateral ties with South Korea, Japan

Biden seeking 'new era' in trilateral ties with South Korea, Japan

'This summit has been in the making since the day the President Biden took office,' says White House

By Michael Hernandez

WASHINGTON (AA) - US President Joe Biden is seeking to forge a "new era" of trilateral ties with Japan and South Korea, the White House said Friday as leaders from the three nations convene for a landmark summit.

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said the meeting with South Korea President Yoon Suk Yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at the vaunted Camp David presidential retreat will serve as the "launch of this new era in trilateral cooperation that we believe will come to the strong benefit of each of our three countries."

"In many ways, this summit has been in the making since the day the President Biden took office. He has really focused on each of these relationships, each of these alliances, the bilateral relationship we have with Japan and with Korea and then of course, the trilateral cooperation among the three of us," Sullivan told reporters.

The summit is the first to be held at Camp David since former President Barack Obama hosted Gulf Arab leaders at the retreat in 2015.

It is expected to culminate in a series of trilateral announcements following a diplomatic push from Biden to improve bilateral relations between Seoul and Tokyo, which have been soured by decades of enmity.

The announcements are expected to include commitments for each of the nations' leaders to meet on an annual basis, steps to bolster trilateral security cooperation, a multi-year military exercise plan, plans to build partner capacity in the Indio-Pacific, greater coordination on missile defense, and new energy and economic security initiatives.

While the White House has been keen to emphasize that the meeting is not aimed at countering any one nation, it comes amid growing great power competition with China and increasing concern over North Korea's ballistic missile and nuclear programs.

Sullivan sought to push back on criticism from China that the US is seeking to develop a new Asia-Pacific NATO alliance, saying the partnership that is being strengthened "is not against anyone, it is for something. It is for a vision of the Indo Pacific that is free, open, secure and prosperous."

"In all of those decades of cooperation we've had with Japan and the ROK, we have helped safeguard stability and security in the Indo Pacific. And that has created the conditions for all of the countries of the region to do well economically, by the way, including China," he said, referring to South Korea by its formal acronym.

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