Biden huddling with Asian allies over North Korea and China threat


PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — President Joe Biden met with the leaders of Japan and South Korea on Sunday to coordinate their response to North Korea’s threatening nuclear and ballistic missile programs, as well as to seek feedback on the management of China’s assertive posture in the Pacific region on the eve of its scheduled face-to-face with President Xi Jinping.

Biden met separately with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol. The three leaders are then due to sit together on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in Cambodia.

The meetings come as North Korea has fired dozens of missiles in recent weeks, including an intercontinental ballistic missile 10 days ago that triggered evacuation alerts in northern Japan, and as allies put in place guard against an imminent risk that the isolated country will carry out its seventh nuclear test in the coming weeks.

Biden met with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese at the summit on Sunday.
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US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters on Saturday that Biden intended to use the meetings to bolster the three countries’ joint response to the dangers posed by North Korea, officially known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“What we would really like to see is enhanced trilateral security cooperation where the three countries come together,” he said. “This is particularly true with regard to the DPRK because of the common threat and challenge we all face, but it is also true, more broadly, with regard to our ability to work together to build peace. and overall stability in the region”.

Tensions on the Korean peninsula have skyrocketed in recent months as the North continues its weapons demonstrations and the United States and South Korea have launched intensified joint defense drills. Earlier this month, the South Korean military said two B-1B bombers trained with four US F-16 fighter jets and four South Korean F-35 jets during the final day of drills. air force spouses “Vigilant Storm”. It was the first time since December 2017 that the bombers had been deployed to the Korean Peninsula. The exercise involved a total of around 240 combat aircraft, including advanced F-35 fighter jets from both countries.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (right) meets South Korean Prime Minister Yoon Suk Yeol.  Both nations face the threat of North Korea.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (right) meets South Korean Prime Minister Yoon Suk Yeol. Both nations face the threat of North Korea.
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North Korea responded with its own show of force, flying large numbers of warplanes inside its territory.

The Biden administration said it sent repeated requests to negotiate with North Korea without preconditions on curbing its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, but Kim Jong Un’s government did not respond.

Biden said he plans to pressure Xi to use China’s unique influence over North Korea to limit its aggressive behavior, in what is expected to be a high-profile bilateral meeting in margins of the Group of 20 meeting in Bali, Indonesia.

China “has an interest in playing a constructive role in containing North Korea’s worst tendencies,” Sullivan said on Saturday. “Whether they choose to do so or not is of course up to them.”

Biden told reporters on Sunday that he had “always had direct discussions” with Xi, and that had prevented either of them from “miscalculating” their intentions. Their meeting comes weeks after Xi strengthened his grip on China’s political system with the conclusion of the Community Party Congress in Beijing that earned him a groundbreaking third term as leader.

The Prime Ministers of Cambodia and Indonesia exchange the ASEAN Chairmanship gavel during the summit's closing ceremonies.
The Prime Ministers of Cambodia and Indonesia exchange the ASEAN Chairmanship gavel during the summit’s closing ceremonies.
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“His situation has changed, to state the obvious, back home,” Biden said of Xi. Biden argued his own did too, saying that after Democrats retained control of the Senate in the midterm elections, “I know I’m getting stronger.”

Monday’s meeting will be the first face-to-face meeting between the leaders since Biden was elected to the White House. In the past, US officials have expressed frustration that lower-level Chinese officials have proven unable or unwilling to speak on Xi’s behalf, and hope the face-to-face summit will lead to progress on areas of interest. commonality – and, more importantly, a shared understanding of each other’s limitations.

“I know him well, he knows me,” Biden said. “We just have to figure out where the red lines are and what are the most important things for each of us, over the next two years.”

Biden listens to a speech by the Cambodian Prime Minister during ASEAN.
Biden listens to a speech by the Cambodian Prime Minister during the ASEAN summit.
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As president, Biden has repeatedly blamed China for human rights abuses against the Uyghur people and other ethnic minorities, Beijing’s crackdown on democracy activists in Hong Kong, business practices coercive measures, military provocations against autonomous Taiwan and differences over Russia’s pursuit of its war against Ukraine.

Xi’s government has criticized the Biden administration’s stance on Taiwan – which Beijing seeks to unify with the communist mainland – as undermining China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Chinese president also hinted that Washington wants to stifle Beijing’s growing influence as it tries to overtake the United States as the world’s largest economy.

Biden also held a side meeting with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who requested his own meeting with Xi this week in a bid to ease Chinese sanctions against his country.

Sullivan said Biden would also ask the leaders of Japan and South Korea what issues they wanted him to discuss with Xi, although that was not the main discussion at their trilateral meeting.

“One thing that President Biden certainly wants to do with our closest allies is to preview what he intends to do,” Sullivan said, “and also ask the leaders (of South Korea) and from Japan, ‘What do you want me to lift? What do you want me to go with?'”


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