In South Korea, Biden Moves to Shore Up Alliance
SEOUL — President Biden on Saturday showcased a really totally different strategy to the Korean Peninsula from his predecessor’s, vowing to contemplate increasing joint navy workouts with South Korea and taking a extra jaundiced view of the prospect of direct talks with North Korea’s chief.
In his first meeting with President Yoon Suk-yeol, Mr. Biden sought to put the connection with South Korea, historically one of many United States’ strongest allies in Asia, on a firmer basis after the risky years of President Donald J. Trump, who steadily undercut ties with the South whereas wooing the North’s mercurial dictator, Kim Jong-un.
“The alliance between the Republic of Korea and the United States has never been stronger, more vibrant or, I might add, more vital,” mentioned Mr. Biden, utilizing South Korea’s formal title, at a information convention in Seoul with Mr. Yoon, who was inaugurated solely 11 days in the past.
Unlike Mr. Trump, Mr. Biden hailed the persevering with American troop presence in South Korea. “It’s emblematic of our strength and our continuing strength and the durability of our alliance and our readiness to take on all threats,” he mentioned.
As for coping with the nuclear-armed North, Mr. Biden was cautious and skeptical. He mentioned the United States had already provided vaccines to North Korea to assist it address what has been reported to be a devastating coronavirus outbreak. “We’ve gotten no response,” he mentioned.
“With regard to whether I would meet with the leader of North Korea,” he added, “that would depend on whether he was sincere and whether it was serious.”
The president’s strategy contrasted sharply with that of Mr. Trump, who throughout his four-year time period veered wildly from threatening the North with “fire and fury” to falling “in love” with Mr. Kim.
In the top, the 2 leaders met 3 times. They reached no lasting settlement, however as a part of his courtship, Mr. Trump agreed to droop main joint navy workouts with South Korea that had lengthy irritated North Korean leaders, with out first warning both Seoul or the Pentagon.
Mr. Trump additionally questioned why the United States nonetheless maintained a power of 28,500 troops within the nation seven a long time after the Korean War, leaving the Seoul authorities of that point unsure concerning the American dedication to the alliance.
Despite Mr. Trump’s suspension of the high-profile navy drills, smaller-scale joint workouts with the South Korean navy continued throughout his time period. In a joint assertion on Saturday, Mr. Biden and Mr. Yoon agreed to begin “discussions to expand the scope and scale” of the navy workouts.
Mr. Biden mentioned that cooperation between the United States and South Korea confirmed “our readiness to take on all threats together.” He additionally mentioned that his administration would collaborate to confront cyberattacks from North Korea.
Mr. Yoon, who got here to office promising a more durable strategy to North Korea, expressed satisfaction with Mr. Biden’s stance. “President Biden and I see eye to eye on so many fronts,” Mr. Yoon mentioned.
The new South Korean president didn’t rule out talks with Mr. Kim, and like his predecessor, Moon Jae-in, he provided the prospect of financial help for the North. But Mr. Yoon made it clear that the North would have to hand over its nuclear weapons, which it has been manifestly unwilling to do. Indeed, in current days, American intelligence officers have warned that North Korea may check a missile or a nuclear weapon throughout Mr. Biden’s journey to reassert itself internationally.
“The door to dialogue remains open,” Mr. Yoon mentioned. “If North Korea genuinely embarks upon denuclearization in partnership with the international community, I am prepared to present an audacious plan that will vastly strengthen its economy and improve the quality of life for its people.”
The meeting between Mr. Biden and Mr. Yoon additionally underscored the diploma to which Russia’s invasion of Ukraine now hovers over all of Mr. Biden’s diplomacy all over the world.
“The war against Ukraine isn’t just a matter for Europe,” Mr. Biden mentioned. “It’s an attack on democracy and the core international principles of sovereignty, and the Republic of Korea and the United States are standing together as part of a global response with our allies and partners around the world.”
The two leaders additionally mentioned additional financial cooperation at a time when the United States is struggling to safe provide chains, they usually foreshadowed the formal introduction on Monday of a regional financial framework meant to coordinate insurance policies on provide chains, digital commerce, infrastructure, clear vitality and different areas.
After a state dinner in Seoul on Saturday evening, Mr. Biden will fly to Japan on Sunday for conferences with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. He can be anticipated to meet there with the leaders of India and Australia.