South Korea, U.S. expand military exercises to deter North Korea

SEOUL, South Korea — US President Joe Biden and South Korean President Yoon Seok-yeol after their meeting on Saturday said they would consider expanded joint military exercises to deter North Korea’s nuclear threat at a time when there is little hope for any real diplomacy on the North Korean issue.

The announcement reflects the two leaders’ turn from a predecessor, when former US President Donald Trump considered halting training and expressed his affection for North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. And South Korea’s last president, Moon Jae-in, was committed to dialogue with Chairman Kim until the end of his term, despite repeated refusals from North Korea.

Former Vice President Biden said the US-South Korea cooperation is “ready to meet any threat together”.

Biden Asia
South Korean President Yoon Seok-yeol (left) shakes hands with US President Joe Biden at the People’s Party in Yeouido, Seoul on the morning of Saturday, May 21, 2022. (Song Kyung-seok/Pool photo provided by AP)

Song Kyung-seok / AP

North Korea, which has advocated developing nuclear weapons and missiles as an essential deterrent against US threats, may respond with anger to Saturday’s announcement. The Allies described the exercise as defensive, but long described the joint military exercise as a rehearsal for an invasion.

At a joint press conference, former Vice President Biden and Secretary Yoon declared that complete denuclearization of North Korea was the common goal. In a joint statement, the United States and South Korea promised an ‘rules-based international order’ following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The statement is likely to pave the way for the United States and its allies to meet any challenge with North Korea.

However, former Vice President Biden has repeated vaccine proposals for North Korea, including an offer to deliver the vaccine via China, if the North Koreans can tolerate it more, given the coronavirus is spreading at a dangerously fast rate to North Korea. When asked if he was willing to meet Kim Jong-un, former Vice President Biden said it would depend on whether the North Korean leader was “serious” or “serious.”

Former Vice President Biden said, “Yes, we have provided the vaccine to China as well as North Korea.” We are ready to do that right away. We didn’t get a response.”

The division of the Korean Peninsula after World War II led to two fundamentally different countries. In South Korea, former Vice President Biden tours computer chip and next-generation automobile factories in a democratic country and participates in talks for greater cooperation. But in North Korea, a deadly coronavirus is emerging from an unvaccinated dictatorship that could best get the world’s attention by unleashing its nuclear capabilities.

White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan met with reporters at Air Force One during Biden’s flight to South Korea, saying, “The United States is discussing how South Korea and Japan will respond if North Korea launches a nuclear test or missile attack during Biden’s stay. worked with,” he said. local or soon. Prime Minister Sullivan also spoke to Chinese President Yang Jiechi earlier this week, urging China to use its influence to persuade North Korea to stop its nuclear tests.

Former Vice President Biden spent less than a week in office on Saturday developing a relationship with Yun, as part of a five-day Asia itinerary.

The president of the United States put on white gloves on Saturday and with a sombre expression placed a wreath at the Seoul National Cemetery, lighted incense, and signed a guestbook. Former Vice President Biden met Rep. Yoon at the People’s House and held a press conference after the two-hour meeting. The leaders ended the day with a dinner at the National Museum of Korea.

Biden Asia
US President Joe Biden attends a wreath ceremony at the Seoul National Cemetery in Seoul on Saturday, May 21, 2022.

Evan Butch / AP

Rep. Yoon toasted former Vice President Biden, saying that the ROK-U.S. alliance was “forged in blood on the battlefield of the Korean War.” He said the partnership would include advanced technology and global strategic partnerships beyond South Korea’s security, citing Irish poet William Butler Yates, making Biden laugh.

Former Vice President Joe Biden toasted the alliance “will prosper for decades to come.” The two finished their toast with the military motto, “Let’s go together.”

At the meeting, the two leaders emphasized economic security and the growth of trade relations as South Korea’s two industries, Samsung and Hyundai, opened major factories in the United States.

A political newcomer with no foreign policy experience, Yun held a meeting with Biden to prove his competence on the world stage just two weeks after taking office. The US president also had a phone call with South Korea’s former president, Moon Jae-in, on Saturday. Biden thanked Biden for his close partnership, the White House said.

Although Biden is facing growing opposition within the United States over inflation nearing its 40-year high, his administration sees one clear economic victory over China for influence in the Pacific. Bloomberg Economics Analysis estimates that the US economy will grow faster than China this year for the first time since 1976, the forecast Biden highlighted at a press conference.

After domestic political backlash, the United States abandoned a trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and struggled to unite a coalition of Asian nations that could contain China’s growing power.

Former Vice President Joe Biden avoided questions about the deal’s resurgence, but spoke of the potential for closer ties in the region beyond traditional alliances like South Korea and Japan.

“Things have changed,” he said. “There is a perception among the democracies of the Pacific that much closer cooperation is needed. Not only militarily, but also economically and politically.”

Biden did not explicitly mention the need to respond to China in his comments, but on Saturday Beijing provided its own response message.

China’s Ambassador Liu Xiaoming tweeted: “I hope that the United States will harmonize its words and actions and work with countries in the region to promote unity and cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region.”

Early in the administration, many White House officials thought that Kim’s nuclear ambitions would be perhaps the administration’s most vexing challenge and that the North Korean leader would aim to test Biden’s mettle early in his tenure.

During the Biden administration’s first 14 months, North Korea suspended missile tests in exchange for sanctions relief, despite ignoring the administration’s efforts to approach it through a back channel to resume talks that could lead to North Korea’s denuclearization.

But the quiet did not last long. North Korea test-fired the missile 16 times this year, including March when it launched the first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) since 2017.

The Biden administration is urging China to deter North Korea from testing missiles or nuclear weapons. Sullivan said in an interview with Air Force One that Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping could have a phone call in the coming weeks.

Former Vice President Biden has made it clear that he sees China as America’s biggest economic and national security competitor, but said it’s important to maintain lines of communication so that the two countries can work together on issues of mutual interest. North Korea is probably the highest on that list.

A White House official said former Vice President Biden would not visit the demilitarized zone between the Korean Peninsula and the Korean Peninsula during the trip. Instead, former Vice President Joe Biden will visit the Air Force Operations Headquarters Combat Operations Center at Osan Air Base, south of Seoul, on Sunday.

Associated Press Correspondent Donghyung Kim of Seoul, Korea and Chris Megerian and Darlene Superville of Washington contributed to this report.


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