Biden and Yun vow to block North Korea and provide Govt assistance

SEOUL, May 21 (Reuters) – President Joe Biden and his new South Korean envoy agreed on Saturday to send Kovit-19 vaccines to block North Korea, meet with Kim Jong Un, conduct large-scale military exercises and use more US weapons if necessary. UN

Biden and Yoon Suk-yol said their countries’ decades-old alliance should not only confront the North Korean threat, but also build the Indo-Pacific region to “keep free and open” and protect global supply chains.

The two leaders meet in Seoul for their first diplomatic engagement since the South Korean president took office 11 days ago. The conflict between the allies was clouded by intelligence that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was ready to conduct nuclear or missile tests.

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Yoon also sought to reassure the United States that it would increase its resistance to North Korea’s threats. In a joint statement, Biden reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to protecting South Korea with nuclear weapons if necessary.

Both sides agreed to consider expanding their combined military exercises, which have been reduced in recent years in connection with efforts to reduce tensions with the Govt-19 and the North.

The United States has also promised to maintain “strategic assets” to intercept North Korea, if necessary, including long-range bombers, missile submarines or aircraft carriers.

Both leaders said they were committed to denuclearizing North Korea and were ready to pursue diplomacy with Pyongyang.

“Whether I meet with the North Korean leader depends on whether he is sincere and whether he is serious,” Biden told a news conference.

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He said Washington has provided the COVID-19 vaccine to China and North Korea, which are fighting its first approved outbreak. “We have no answer,” Biden said.

North Korea announced on Saturday that more than 200,000 new patients had been infected with the flu for the fifth day in a row, but there were no vaccines or modern treatments for the infection in the country. read more

Expanding the alliance

The U.S.-South Korea alliance on the 1950-1953 Korean War must grow further to keep the Indo-Pacific region “free and open,” Biden said.

He said the alliance was built on the basis of Russia’s war in Ukraine and China’s claim to Taiwan – opposition to forced demarcation.

The joint statement stressed the need to maintain peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and to safeguard free navigation in the South China Sea.

When asked by reporters about possible reactions from Beijing, UN National Security Adviser Kim Chung-han said those issues are directly linked to South Korea’s national interests because of the use of South Korean shipping routes.

“So I think there is no room for China’s retaliation or misunderstandings about this,” he said.

Changes in international trade and supply chains have given new impetus to the United States and South Korea to deepen their relationship, and Eun has called for cooperation on electric batteries and semiconductors.

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Biden used the visit to promote investments in the United States by Korean companies, with South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Group investing about $ 5.5 billion to build its first fully electric vehicle and battery manufacturing facility in the United States. read more

The two leaders toured the Samsung semiconductor plant on Friday, where Biden said countries like the United States and South Korea needed to “share values” to further cooperate to protect economic and national security.

Yoon said the concept of economic security includes cooperating in the event of shocks in the foreign exchange market.

The South Korean president, who is keen to play a major role in regional issues, said his country would join Biden’s Indo-Pacific Economic Structure (IPEF), which will be announced during the trip to set standards in the labor, environment and distribution chains.

China is South Korea’s best trading partner, and UN aides have insisted that neither the Joint Statement nor the IPEF explicitly exclude any country.

While White House officials sought to downplay any outspoken message against China, it did draw attention to the theme of Biden’s visit and Beijing’s attention.

“We hope the United States will put its words into action and work with countries in the region, rather than conspiring to divide and conflict, to promote unity and cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region,” Liu Xiaoming, the Chinese ambassador to Korea, said on Twitter.

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Report by Trevor Hunnicutt, Hyonhee Shin, Jack Kim, Eric Beech and Josh Smith; Editing: William Mallard and Mike Harrison

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