Biden huddles with Asian allies over North Korea, China threat
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — President Joe Biden met with leaders of Japan and South Korea on Sunday to coordinate their response to North Korea’s threatening nuclear and ballistic missile programs and solicit input on managing China’s assertive stance in the Pacific region the night before his planned face-to-face meeting with President Xi Jinping.
Biden met separately with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol. The three heads of state and government are then to sit together on the fringes of the East Asia Summit in Cambodia.
The meetings come as North Korea launched dozens of missiles in recent weeks, including an intercontinental ballistic missile 10 days ago that sparked evacuation alerts in northern Japan, and as allies warn of an impending risk that the isolated country could end its seventh nuclear test in Japan Japan is conducting in the coming weeks.
U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters Saturday Biden wanted to use the meetings to strengthen the three countries’ joint response to the threats of North Korea, officially known as the DPRK.
“What we would really like to see is enhanced trilateral security cooperation where the three countries come together,” he said. “That’s true in relation to the DPRK because of the common threat and challenge we all face, but it’s also true more broadly of our ability to work together to improve overall regional peace and stability.”
Tensions on the Korean peninsula have skyrocketed in recent months as the North continues gun demonstrations and the US and South Korea launch intensified joint defense exercises. Earlier this month, the South Korean military said two B-1B bombers were training with four US F-16 fighter jets and four South Korean F-35 jets on the final day of joint air force exercises “Vigilant Storm”. It was the first time the bombers had been deployed to the Korean Peninsula since December 2017. A total of around 240 fighter jets were involved in the exercise, including advanced F-35 fighter jets from both countries.
North Korea responded with a show of force of its own, flying large numbers of warplanes within its territory.
The Biden administration has said it has repeatedly sent requests to negotiate with North Korea without preconditions to limit its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, but Kim Jong Un’s administration has not responded.
Biden said he plans to urge Xi to use China’s unique influence over North Korea to curb its aggressive behavior as part of what is expected to be a far-reaching bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Group of 20 meeting in Bali, Indonesia.
China “has an interest in playing a constructive role in containing North Korea’s worst tendencies,” Sullivan said Saturday. “Whether they choose to do that or not is of course up to them.”
Biden told reporters Sunday that he had “always had straightforward conversations” with Xi, and that prevented both of them from “miscalculating” their intentions. Their meeting comes weeks after Xi cemented his grip on China’s political system with the conclusion of the Community Party Congress in Beijing that gave him a norm-breaking third term as leader.
“His circumstances have changed at home, to state the obvious,” Biden said of Xi. Biden claimed his own did as well, saying after Democrats retained control of the Senate in the midterm elections, “I know I’m getting stronger.”
Monday’s meeting will be the first in-person meeting between leaders since Biden was elected to the White House. US officials have in the past expressed frustration that lower-level Chinese officials have proven unable or unwilling to speak for Xi and hope the face-to-face summit will see progress in areas of common interest will enable – and, more importantly, a shared understanding of each other’s limitations.
“I know him well, he knows me,” Biden said. “We just need to figure out where the red lines are and what’s most important to each of us over the next two years.”
As president, Biden has repeatedly held China accountable for human rights abuses against the Uyghur people and other ethnic minorities, Beijing’s crackdown on democracy activists in Hong Kong, forced trade practices, military provocations against self-governing Taiwan, and differences over Russia’s prosecution of his country’s war against Ukraine.
The Xi government has criticized the Biden administration’s stance on Taiwan — which Beijing eventually wants to unite with the communist mainland — as undermining China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Chinese president has also hinted Washington wants to stifle Beijing’s growing influence as it seeks to overtake the US as the world’s largest economy.
Biden also held a pull-aside meeting with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who this week sought his own meeting with Xi to ease Chinese sanctions on his country.
Sullivan said Biden will also ask the leaders of Japan and South Korea what issues he should discuss with Xi, although that would not be the main discussion at their trilateral meeting.
“One thing President Biden certainly wants to do with our closest allies is preview what he’s about to do,” Sullivan said, “and also ask the leaders of (South Korea) and Japan, ‘What should I raise? What should I go in with?’”
https://nypost.com/2022/11/13/biden-huddles-with-asian-allies-on-north-korea-threat-china/ Biden huddles with Asian allies over North Korea, China threat