May 24, 2024

The U.S. government is making arrangements for trilateral talks with the leaders of Japan and South Korea in July on the occasion of a NATO summit in Washington, a diplomatic source said Sunday.

U.S. President Joe Biden is expected to discuss with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol a range of issues including bolstering deterrence against China’s growing clout and North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats as well as improving cooperation with NATO, the source said.

Biden is expected to formally invite Kishida to visit the United States in July during the U.S.-Japan summit slated for April 10 in Washington.

Combined photo shows (from L)  U.S. President Joe Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol. (Kyodo)

The three countries held the first standalone trilateral summit at the U.S. presidential retreat of Camp David in August. There, they agreed to hold annual trilateral meetings between the leaders.

The agenda for the July summit is expected to include strengthening defense cooperation among their forces and smooth information sharing, as well as expanding their cybersecurity cooperation, according to the source.

They are also likely to discuss their response to Russia, which is deepening military ties with North Korea while it continues its war against Ukraine.

Concerned over China’s use of “economic coercion” against other countries, the United States plans to enhance economic security cooperation with its East Asian allies through the building of resilient supply chains for critical goods such as semiconductors, the source said.

Against a backdrop of stricter control on U.S. chip exports to China, Beijing has imposed export controls on gallium and germanium, two rare metals, as well as graphite. All are critical to a wide range of industries including the batteries used in electric vehicles.

Biden, Kishida and Yoon have met four times, as Japan-South Korea relations have rapidly improved since Yoon took office in May 2022.

Ties between Tokyo and Seoul hit a low after South Korea’s Supreme Court in 2018 ordered two Japanese firms to compensate South Korean plaintiffs over wartime forced labor during Japan’s 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

NATO, meanwhile, has sought to deepen its collaboration with Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand, having invited them to its summit meetings in 2022 and 2023 amid escalating efforts by Russia and China to undermine the status quo under the rules-based international order.

Biden, Kishida and Yoon held talks in Spain on the sidelines of a NATO summit in June 2022, the first such trilateral meeting in about five years.

On the fringes of another NATO summit in Lithuania in July 2023, Kishida and Yoon met bilaterally and agreed to strengthen trilateral security cooperation with the United States, hours after North Korea test-fired a intercontinental ballistic missile.


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