U.S., Japan, South Korea vow unified response to North Korea threat

U.S., Japan, South Korea vow unified response to North Korea threat

Phnom Penh, Cambodia — President Biden and the leaders of Japan and South Korea on Sunday vowed a unified, coordinated response to North Korea’s threatening nuclear and ballistic missile programs, with Mr. Biden declaring that the three-way partnership is “even more important than it’s ever been” when North Korea is stepping up its provocations.

Mr. Biden met separately in Japan with Fumio Kishida, the Japanese Prime Minister, and Yoon Suk Yeol, the South Korean President before they all sat down together at the East Asia Summit in Cambodia.

The U.S. president began by offering condolences for a crowd surge during Halloween festivities in Seoul that killed more than 150 people, saying the U.S. had grieved with South Korea. Although the meeting was dominated by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s recent escalations of power, Mr. Biden stated that the three leaders would also discuss strengthening supply chain and preserving peace in the Taiwan Strait while building on their support for Ukraine in the face Russian aggression.

Mr. Biden had also planned to seek input from Kishida and Yoon on managing China’s assertive posture in the Pacific region on the eve of his face-to-face meeting with President Xi Jinping.

” We face real challenges but our countries are more closely aligned than ever and more ready to take on these challenges than ever,” Mr. Biden stated. “So I look forward in deepening the cooperation between our three nations. “

President Biden takes part in a trilateral meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on Nov. 13, 2022.

SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

Both Yoon and Kishida discussed the ongoing displays of aggression by North Korea, which has fired dozens of missiles in recent weeks. The launches include an intercontinental ballistic missile 10 days ago that triggered evacuation alerts in northern Japan, and as the allies warn of a looming risk of the isolated country conducting its seventh nuclear test in the coming weeks.

Referring to the crowd surge that occurred in the Itaewon neighborhood in Seoul, Yoon said, through an interpreter: “At a time when South Koreans are grieving in deep sorrow, North Korea pushed ahead with such provocations which lays bare the Kim Jong Un regime’s true inclinations.”

U.S. Jake Sullivan, the national security advisor to the United States, told reporters Saturday that Mr. Biden would use these meetings to strengthen the countries’ joint response against the dangers posed North Korea, officially known under the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“We would like to see enhanced trilateral security cooperation, where the three countries are all joining together,” he stated. “That’s true in relation to the DPRK due to the common threat and challenge that we all face. But it’s also true about our ability to work together to improve overall peace and stability within the region. “

Tensions on the Korean peninsula have skyrocketed in recent months as the North continues its weapons demonstrations and the U.S. and South Korea launched stepped-up joint defense exercises. Earlier this month, the South Korean military said two B-1B bombers trained with four U.S. F-16 fighter jets and four South Korean F-35 jets during the last day of “Vigilant Storm” joint air force drills. It was the first time since December 2017 that the bombers were deployed to the Korean Peninsula. The exercise involved a total of roughly 240 warplanes, including advanced F-35 fighter jets from both countries.

North Korea reacted with its own show of force by flying large numbers warplanes within its territory. The Biden administration stated that it has repeatedly asked North Korea to negotiate without conditions on its nuclear and missile programs. However, Kim’s government has not responded.

Mr. Biden has said he plans to press Xi to use China’s unique sway over North Korea to curtail its aggressive behavior, as part of what is expected to be a wide-ranging meeting between the leaders on the margins of the Group of 20 gathering in Bali, Indonesia. Sullivan stated Saturday that

China has an interest in playing a constructive part in restraining North Korea’s worst tendencies. “Whether they choose to do so or not is, of course, up to them.”

Mr. Biden said to reporters that he has “always had straight conversations” with Xi and that this has prevented them from making “miscalculations” about their intentions. Their meeting comes weeks after Xi cemented his grip on China’s political system with the conclusion of the Community Party congress in Beijing that gave him a norm-breaking third term as leader.

“His situation changed, to state what is obvious, at home,” Mr. Biden said about Xi. Mr. Biden maintained that his own have as well, saying that after Democrats retained control of the Senate in the midterm elections, “I know I’m coming in stronger. “

Monday’s meeting will be the first in-person sit-down between the leaders since Mr. Biden was elected. In the past, U.S. officials have expressed frustration at lower-ranking Chinese officials’ inability or unwillingness to speak for Xi. They hope that the face-toface summit will allow them to make progress on areas of mutual concern and also help them understand each other’s limitations.

” I know him well, and he knows me,” Mr. Biden stated. “We just have to determine where the red lines are, and what the most important things are for each of us going into the next two-years. “

As President, Mr. Biden has repeatedly held China accountable for human rights violations against the Uyghur people, Beijing’s crackdown on democracy activists in Hong Kong and coercive trading practices, military provocations against self-ruled Taiwan, and disagreements over Russia’s prosecution for its war against Ukraine.

Xi has criticized the Biden administration for its position toward Taiwan, which Beijing hopes to unify with the communist mainland. The Chinese president also has suggested that Washington wants to stifle Beijing’s growing clout as it tries to overtake the U.S. as the world’s largest economy.

Mr. Biden also spoke briefly to Anthony Albanese, the Australian Prime Minister, in an effort ease Chinese sanctions against his nation.

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