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Joe Biden to make first trip to Asia as President to ‘show commitment to free open allies’

NewsJoe Biden to make first trip to Asia as President to ‘show commitment to free open allies’

Mr Biden will visit South Korea and Japan between May 20 and May 24, meeting new South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, who is set to be inaugurated on May 10. The US President will also meet Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo along with the leaders of Australia and India as part of the Quad partnership.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement that the trip is meant “to further deepen ties between our governments, economies, and people.”

She said: “This trip will advance the Biden-Harris Administration’s rock-solid commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific and to U.S. treaty alliances with the Republic of Korea and Japan.”

One key issue which may dominate Mr Biden’s visit is the recent missile tests by North Korea which once again is threatening to destabilise the region.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, vowed during a massive military parade this week to “strengthen and develop” his nuclear forces at the “highest possible” speed.

The trip comes at a crucial time for the Biden administration with the ongoing war in Ukraine dominating foreign policy debates, reported CNN.

However Mr Biden has made it clear that he feels that US alliances in Asia are crucial in upholding a “rules-based order” worldwide.

The US President is also interested in refocusing American foreign policy on Asia in an effort to counter the growing influence of China.

Mr Biden’s desire to pivot to Asia follows similar rhetoric from his predecessors Barack Obama and Donald Trump.

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However it has taken longer for him to make his first visit to Asia than previous US Presidents due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

White House officials say they have been pleased by the willingness of US allies in the region to impose sanctions on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine.

Japan and South Korea have also diverted some of their supplies of natural gas to Europe to compensate for reduced Russian supplies.

Biden spoke with Yoon, seen as a conservative hardliner, on the phone last month after he was called the winner of the South Korean election to replace outgoing Liberal President Moon Jae In.

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The White House said at the time that the pair discussed a number of challenges including COVID-19, climate change and North Korea’s missile programme.

Early in his presidency Mr Biden identified North Korea as his greatest foreign policy challenge.

The US President has attempted to restore dialogue with Pyongyang but with very little response.

Mr Biden’s visit comes as US officials are watching China’s actions in relation to the war in Ukraine.

Washington has warned Beijing they will face severe consequences if they support the Russian war effort in Ukraine.

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