Biden to meet top US allies Japan and South Korea, following midterm push

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

President Joe Biden He landed in Cambodia on Saturday. still reveling in midterm election results they have produced unexpected momentum at home for his second two years in office.

The scale of the challenges abroad and the effort to translate 21 months of intensive engagement into tangible results for US alliances will test the value of that political capital on the international stage even since the votes are still being counted.

Biden is set to face a series of stark challenges in his meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, critical allies in an Indo-Pacific region shaken by a North Korea. increasingly belligerent. An assertive and confrontational China, long a central theme of animation for the Biden administration, also looms large.

Biden will also meet with Kishida and Yoon individually before their trilateral meeting.

Biden’s stop at the summit of Asian nations comes as advisers see clear momentum in opposing historical and political trends in the midterm elections. While Biden’s message won’t change drastically, the weight behind it is unmistakably stronger after American voters delivered a message that exceeded the hopes of even the most optimistic White House officials.

The trio of world leaders previously met on the sidelines of the NATO Summit in June, pledging to enhance cooperation, a difficult task for major US allies. They have a historically tense relationship.

But that cooperation is imperative as North Korea’s recent and intensified aggression will be top of mind for the trio of leaders on Sunday. North Korea has carried out missile launches 32 days this year, according to a CNN count ballistic and cruise missiles. By contrast, he ran just four tests in 2020 and eight in 2021.

National security adviser Jake Sullivan suggested Saturday that the meeting will not lead to specific deliveries, telling reporters aboard Air Force One that the leaders “will be able to discuss broader security issues in the Indo-Pacific and also specifically, the threats posed by North Korea.” nuclear and missile programs.

The trilateral comes a day before a high-stakes personal meeting for Biden with China’s leader Xi Jinping, their first in-person meeting since Biden took office. That meeting will take place on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali.

Speaking to reporters on Sunday morning, Biden said he entered the meeting with Xi in a position of relative strength.

“I know I’m coming back stronger,” he said, noting that he knew Xi well and that there were “very few misunderstandings” between the two leaders.

“We just have to figure out what the red lines are and what the most important things are for each of us in the next few years,” Biden said.

Biden, Yoon and Fumio will also discuss Monday’s meeting during the trilateral meeting.

“One thing President Biden certainly wants to do with our closest allies is preview what he intends to do and also ask the leaders of (South Korea) and Japan, ‘What would you like me to raise? What do you want me to come in with?’” Sullivan said, adding that “it will be a theme, but it will not be the main event of the trilateral”.

Earlier Sunday, Biden will attend the East Asia Summit, taking advantage of Saturday’s appearance at the ASEAN Summit aimed at boosting US-Indo-Pacific relations. She then meets up with Fumio and Yoon before leaving for Bali.

This leg of the trip, a senior administration official told reporters on a call earlier this week, reflects an “intensified engagement with ASEAN and Southeast Asia” during the Biden administration.

Biden, the official added, “will lay out our vision to maintain an enhanced pace of engagement and also seek to address concerns of importance to ASEAN in the ways they are seeking,” maintaining an ongoing theme during Biden’s presidency of building alliances in strategic competition with China.

Among the key topics of discussion this weekend in Cambodia, the official said, is the ongoing conflict in Myanmar, where the military seized power in a coup last year.

World leaders will discuss “efforts to promote respect for human rights, the rule of law and good governance, the rules-based international order, and also to address the ongoing crisis in Burma.”

Biden arrived in Phnom Penh on Saturday for a bilateral meeting with ASEAN President and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and to attend the ASEAN-US summit.

“This is my third trip, my third summit, my second in person, and it is a testament to the importance the United States places on our relationship with ASEAN and our commitment to ASEAN’s centrality. ASEAN is at the heart of my administration’s Indo-Pacific strategy. And we continue to strengthen our commitment to working in unison with an empowered and unified ASEAN,” Biden said in brief opening remarks at the start of the summit.

On Friday, Biden made a three-hour stop in Sharm El Shiekh, Egypt, where he attended the COP27 climate summit and met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.

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