Biden meets with Asian allies on the threat of North Korea and China

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — President Joe Biden is scheduled to meet on Sunday with the leaders of Japan and South Korea to coordinate their response to North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, as well as to get input on managing China’s assertive stance in the Pacific region on the eve of his planned showdown. With President Xi Jinping.

Biden will hold separate meetings with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Sok Yul. Afterwards, the three leaders will 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 warnings in northern Japan, and as allies warn of a looming danger that the isolated country could conduct its nuclear test. Seven in the coming weeks.

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on Saturday that Biden aims to use the meetings to strengthen 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 an enhanced trilateral security cooperation where the three countries come together,” he said. “This is absolutely true with regard to the DPRK because of the common threat and challenge we all face, but it is also true, more broadly, about our ability to work together to promote overall peace and stability in the region.”

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have risen in recent months as North Korea continues to display its weapons, and the United States and South Korea begin extensive joint defense exercises. 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 the Air Force’s joint “Vigilant Storm” exercise. . This was the first time since December 2017 that the bombers were deployed to the Korean peninsula. The exercises involved a total of 240 warplanes, including advanced F-35 fighter jets from both countries.

North Korea responded with its own show of force, flying large numbers of warplanes into its territory.

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

Biden said Monday he plans to pressure Xi to use China’s unique leverage over North Korea to curb its aggressive behavior, as part of what he expects to be a large-scale bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 meeting in Bali, Indonesia. .

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

Biden told reporters Sunday that he has “always had direct discussions” with Xi, and that has prevented either of them from “miscalculating” their intentions. Their meeting comes weeks after he tightened his grip on China’s political system with the conclusion of the Community Party congress in Beijing, which handed him an ill-conceived third term.

“His circumstances have changed, to state the obvious, at home,” Biden said of Xi.

Monday’s meeting will be the first in-person meeting between the two leaders since Biden’s election to the White House. U.S. officials have expressed frustration in the past that lower-level Chinese officials have proven unable or unwilling to speak for Xi, and hope the face-to-face summit will lead to progress in areas of mutual interest — and, most importantly, a shared understanding of each other’s limitations. .

“I know him very well, he knows me,” said Biden. “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.”

Sullivan said Biden will also ask Japan and South Korea what issues they want him to talk about with Xi, though it will not be the primary discussion of their trilateral meeting.

“One of the things President Biden certainly wants to do with our closest allies is a preview of what he’s up to, and also ask the leaders of (South Korea) and Japan, ‘What do you want me to raise?’” Sullivan said. What do you want me to enter? “

Kim reports from Nusa Dua, Indonesia. Associated Press writer Josh Boak contributed from Baltimore.

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