PREVIEW - Biden To Visit South Korea, Japan For Talks On US Security, Trade Relations

WASHINGTON (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 20th May, 2022) US President Joe Biden will visit South Korea and Japan from May 20-24, where he will participate in bilateral discussions on security and economic matters amid increased tension with North Korea and a growing US interest in the Indo-Pacific to counter China.

Biden will also attend the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD) summit while in Japan, where he will meet with the leaders from Australia and India as well.

The trip will take place amid concerns by US intelligence that North Korea may conduct a missile or nuclear test in the timeframe surrounding Biden's visit to the region, about which the administration has consulted with Japan, South Korea, and China to prepare ahead of the visit.

Biden's trip to East Asia - his first visit to the region as president - will begin in South Korea, where he will meet with newly-elected president Yoon Suk Yeol. It will be the first meeting between the two leaders since Yoon's inauguration.

Yoon told South Korean media that the visit will be a good opportunity to reinforce the US-South Korea alliance, which was a central tenet of his candidacy for president.

The meeting will take place amid an increased number of ballistic missile tests conducted by North Korea since the beginning of the year. North Korea last week conducted its 16th launch this year that the United States has condemned as provocative and in violation of international efforts to curb North Korea's weapons programs.

Biden will also meet with technology and manufacturing leaders while in South Korea, according to White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.

Biden will then travel to Tokyo for bilateral talks with Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio on a range of shared economic and security issues. Sullivan described the US-Japan relationship as at an "all-time-high" and expressed hope that the upcoming meeting will bring it even higher.

The two leaders will also announce the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework - a US-led initiative seemingly aimed at deterring China's influence in the region, Sullivan said. Biden and Kishida will also compare notes ahead of the G7 summit in June, Sullivan added.

The two leaders are also expected to discuss an international framework being developed on access to rare raw materials, which would include the US, Japan, Australia, Canada and other Asian countries, according to Japanese media reports. The partnership would focus on reducing dependence on China for access to raw materials, specifically those used to produce semiconductors, the reports said.

While in Tokyo, Biden will also meet with the leaders of the QUAD group, consisting of the US, Australia, Japan, and India. The leaders summit, which will be held on May 24, will be paralleled by an annual joint military exercise, Exercise Malabar. The Malabar series was launched in 1992 as bilateral US-India exercises, with Japan joining the drills in 2015, and Australia in 2020.

Australia's entry into the exercise was seen by some as a possible step toward the militarization of the QUAD, which the Chinese government has denounced as being an "Asian NATO."

The Biden administration believes that the QUAD summit will demonstrate to the region that democratic governments can deliver, Sullivan said. The trip as a whole will put on full display the Biden administration's Indo-Pacific strategy, Sullivan added.