WASHINGTON (Nation Now) – South Korean President Moon Jae-in will become the second world and Asian leader to be welcomed by President Joe Biden to the White House on Friday, a sign of the importance Washington attaches to the region as it seeks to counter the influence of China.
Ahead of Friday’s meeting, White House officials said North Korea would be at the center of the talks. Coordination on vaccine distribution, climate change and regional security concerns raised by China are also high on the president’s list.
The two leaders are expected to have talks and then hold a joint press conference at 5 p.m. ET. NewsNation will stream the press conference live to the player above.
The White House announced last month that it had completed a review of North Korea’s policy and that Biden would deviate from the strategies of his two most recent predecessors, rejecting both Donald Trump’s personal effort to convince the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and that of Barack Obama. approach without intervention.
But the administration has yet to detail what its third effort will look like to try to get the North to abandon its nuclear program.
Moon, who will step down next May, is eager to resume stalled talks between Washington and Pyongyang and between Seoul and Pyongyang. But the Biden administration – which confirmed in March that it had made unsuccessful northern outreach efforts – has been less enthusiastic about direct negotiations in the short term.
When asked at Thursday’s White House briefing whether Biden was open to direct talks with Kim, as Trump has twice done, press secretary Jen Psaki objected.
“I don’t expect this to be high on her agenda,” she said of Biden.
A South Korean presidential official said a joint US-South Korean statement would encompass a 2018 agreement between Moon and the North Korean leader who pledged to improve relations and work for a complete denuclearization of the peninsula. .
“We have contributed a lot to the review of US policy, and approval of the agreement could be a sign of their respect and recognition,” the official told reporters in Washington.
In addition to talks on North Korea, Biden is expected to use the meeting to pressure South Korea to adopt a more ambitious 2030 target to reduce carbon emissions and to urge Seoul to play. a greater role in countering the growing influence of China in the Indo-Pacific region. .
Moon, meanwhile, is expected to enlist Biden’s help in helping South Korea increase its supply of coronavirus vaccines. South Korea has only vaccinated about 5% of its population.
Biden is expected to pressure Moon to take a tough stance on China’s activity towards Taiwan and other provocative steps Beijing has taken in the region. Biden has sought to rally Pacific allies to coordinate on China, which Biden sees as America’s fiercest economic competitor.
On Thursday, Moon traveled to Arlington National Cemetery just outside Washington and laid a wreath on a memorial to Americans killed in the Korean War. He also traveled to the United States Capitol to meet with Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
All reporting by Aamer Madhani from AP. Reuters reporting by David Brunnstrom, Jarrett Renshaw and Steve Holland; Additional reporting by Hyonhee Shin in Seoul; edited by Tim Ahmann, Grant McCool and Philippa Fletcher. The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.