President Joe Biden arrived in Japan on Sunday, signaling the US commitment to the region in the second leg of his Asia tour, but with concerns that North Korea would test nuclear weapons, ignoring Washington’s outreach efforts.
Biden, on his first trip to Asia as president, flew from South Korea to Yokota Air Base outside Tokyo, where he will meet with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and the emperor on Monday, as well as unveil a package of US-led multilateral trade initiatives.
On Tuesday, he strengthened the theme of American leadership in the Asia-Pacific region by joining leaders from Australia, India and Japan at the Quad Group summit.
The visit was hailed by Washington as a demonstration of the United States’ determination to maintain its trade and military presence across the region, as rival China faces significant economic setbacks due to the Kovid outbreak.
But the fear hanging over every step of Biden’s visit is that the unexpected North Korea will test a nuclear-capable missile or bomb.
Speculation that this could happen even when Biden is on the other side of the Seoul border has not materialized. But US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters the threat remained.
Echoing Biden’s earlier statement that the United States was “ready to do anything about North Korea”, Sullivan said the dictatorship had a choice.
“If North Korea works, we will be ready to respond. If North Korea does not act, North Korea has a chance, as we have repeatedly said, to come to the table.”
Pyongyang has so far refused to respond to US calls for dialogue, officials say, even ignoring offers of assistance in the fight against the sudden outbreak of Covid-19, according to Biden.
And while in Seoul, Biden confirmed that he was ready to meet with Kim Jong Un if the leader was “sincere” for life, but Sullivan said it was too far away.
“We’re still not one step ahead,” he said.
Symbolizing the seemingly one-sided conversation, Biden said that the only message he had for Kim right now consisted of a single word: “Hello. Period,” he said.
Biden has spent two days with South Korea’s new president, Eun Sook-eol, strengthening military defense against North Korea on the agenda.
They said in a statement on Saturday that they were looking at expanding the “scope and scale” of the US-South Korean joint military exercise “considering the evolving threat” from Pyongyang.
The joint exercise was postponed because of Kovid and for Biden and Yun’s predecessors, Donald Trump and Moon Jae-in, to start a high-profile but ultimately failed diplomacy with North Korea.
Unlike Dovish Moon, Eun said he and Biden discussed possible “joint exercises to prepare for a nuclear attack” and called for more US resources to be deployed in the region.
Any force build-up or expansion of joint military exercises is likely to upset Pyongyang, which sees the exercise as an offensive exercise.
North Korea has conducted an explosion of prohibited weapons tests this year, including launching an intercontinental ballistic missile at full range for the first time since 2017, with satellite images indicating that a nuclear test is imminent.
But its weapons testing schedule could also be affected by the Kovid-19 outbreak.
More than 2.6 million cases of what the government has called “fever” have been reported since the Omicron variant was first identified in April, state media reported Sunday.
Before the titleIn Japan on Sunday, Biden met with Hyundai’s chairman to celebrate South Korea’s auto giant’s decision to invest $ 5.5 billion in an electric vehicle plant in the South American state of Georgia.
He met with U.S. and South Korean troops, as well as the United Nations, a schedule that a senior White House official said was capable of “reflecting the truly integrated nature” of the countries’ economic and military alliances.
Biden also emphasizes the broader, almost existential nature of his travels, saying that Asia is a key battleground for the “competition between democracy and dictatorship” worldwide.
“We’ve talked at length about the need to make it bigger than just the United States, Japan and Korea, but the entire Pacific Ocean and the South Pacific and Indo-Pacific. I think that’s an opportunity,” Biden later said. Meet Yoon.
Although China is the main rival of the United States in that struggle, Biden posed a formidable challenge to Russia when he signed a বিল 40 billion aid bill late Saturday to help Ukraine fight the onslaught of Moscow.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)