May 20, 2022
The White House announced that the South Korea-US summit scheduled for Saturday will take place at a “pivotal moment,” and that the meeting will cover core agendas such as solidifying and strengthening the two countries’ security and economic alliance and bolstering the alliance’s role in the global stage.
Stating that the “powerful message” that Biden’s itinerary in the region will send “will be heard in Beijing,” the White House did not shy away from the fact that underlying these agendas is the US’ strong commitment to holding China in check.
During a Wednesday press briefing in which he went over US President Joe Biden’s scheduled visit to South Korea and Japan, White House national security advisor Jake Sullivan stated that Biden “intends to seize this moment – this pivotal moment – to assert bold and confident American leadership” in the Asia-Pacific region. He stressed that “this will be [Biden’s] first trip as President” to the region after the US president successfully brought about support for Ukraine after the country was invaded by Russia.
[T]here’s a good possibility that Taiwan…and Ukraine may be discussed during the summit between Yoon and Biden. Whether the two leaders will use stronger language than what was included in last year’s joint statement between the South Korean and US leaders in regard to Taiwan – “the importance of preserving peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait” – is of interest.
Sullivan also expressed the US’ gratitude towards South Korea and Japan for “their remarkable and in some ways unexpected contributions to the effort to support Ukraine.”
Biden and Yoon may also discuss during their summit how South Korea can cooperate with the Quad, a security partnership among the US, Japan, India and Australia aimed at holding China in check. Sullivan mentioned in his briefing that Yoon “campaigned on the platform of strengthening the US-ROK alliance and on improving relations between the ROK and Japan,” forewarning that the US will request Seoul to better its relationship with Tokyo.