Biden, Yoon hold first summit amid N. Korea tensions | Sunday Observer

Biden, Yoon hold first summit amid N. Korea tensions

22 May, 2022

Seoul, South Korea – South Korea’s President Yoon Suk-yeol and his United States counterpart, Joe Biden, are holding their first summit in the South Korean capital, with their talks set to focus on boosting ties amid concern over North Korean provocations, including warnings of an imminent nuclear or missile test.

Saturday’s summit at the People’s House in Seoul comes a day after Biden arrived in South Korea, on the first leg of an Asian tour that also includes a stop in neighbouring Japan.

The visit – Biden’s first as President – is aimed at reassuring allies of the US’s commitment to the region and countering China’s growing influence at a time when the world’s focus has turned to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

A senior US official told reporters that Biden and Yoon’s discussions will touch on a wide range of topics, including North Korea, the Russia-Ukraine war, trade, technology, climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Speaking to reporters ahead of the summit, the official said the two leaders are expected to announce their intent to strengthen the South Korea-US alliance and will also reaffirm their commitment to the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

They will discuss ways to tackle North Korea’s continuing nuclear and missile program, amid concern over a record 16 weapons launches carried out by Pyongyang this year. US and South Korean officials also say the North is also preparing for a seventh nuclear test, and could perhaps do so during Biden’s six-day Asia visit.

This is despite the North’s first confirmed Covid-19 outbreak, which has infected an estimated two million people and killed 66.

Both the US and South Korea have pledged help, but Pyongyang has shunned the offers so far.

“We are very concerned about the Covid situation,” the US official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “We are very sensitive to the fact that they appear to be facing a quite serious situation, and I think you’ve seen we stand ready to work with others in the international community as needed to provide assistance.”

But he added, “we also want to make clear that the international community stands united in their opposition to their violations of UN Security Council resolutions and their destabilising and threatening behaviour”. -Aljazeera