The 3 topics Yoon plans to discuss during Saturday’s summit with Biden

Posted on : 2022-05-16 17:15 KST Modified on : 2022-05-16 17:15 KST
A spokesperson for the president says the summit will focus on responses to North Korea, economic security, and cooperation on international issues
President Yoon Suk-yeol presides over a Cabinet meeting on May 12. (pool photo)
President Yoon Suk-yeol presides over a Cabinet meeting on May 12. (pool photo)

A spokesperson for South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol said his first summit with US President Joe Biden on May 21 will have three main items on the agenda: responding to North Korean provocations, strengthening economic security, and bilateral cooperation on international issues.

“The summit agenda will largely consist of the two countries’ strategy for responding to North Korean provocations, bilateral collaboration focused on economic security, and ways to contribute to major pending issues in the world,” a senior official working in the Office of the President told reporters Sunday.

Yoon and Biden’s summit and press conference will both take place at the presidential office in Yongsan, Seoul. After arriving in Korea on Friday for a three-day visit, Biden will head to Japan to attend the Quad summit on May 24.

The Quad, short for the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, is a strategic forum between the US, Japan, Australia and India.

The senior official stressed normalizing the Korea-US alliance. “The fact that Biden is visiting South Korea before his summit with the Japanese [prime minister] illustrates the importance of the Korea-US alliance. The most important thing is for the two presidents to quickly establish a trusting relationship and to lay the groundwork for putting the alliance back on its original footing.”

Yoon and Biden are expected to have a focused discussion of the North Korean nuclear issue and ways to cooperate on North Korea policy. Both countries announced their plans to strengthen cooperation on North Korea on Thursday, shortly after Pyongyang fired a ballistic missile.

“This summit is designed to normalize the alliance and ease concerns related to North Korea by reconfirming the US’ firm defense commitment while also rebuilding our joint defense posture,” the senior official said.

Humanitarian aid for North Korea, which is facing an outbreak of COVID-19, is also likely to be on the summit agenda. “The president has devised a plan to provide North Korea with vaccines and medical supplies. The question of how to reach an agreement on the working level will be discussed later,” the official said.

The question of South Korea’s official membership in the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, which the US is organizing in an attempt to counter China, could also come up during the summit.

“We believe this summit represents the first step toward making Korea the global pivotal state that the Yoon administration has repeatedly discussed. We are preparing this event with the understanding that our two countries value economic security,” the official said.

At the same time, China sent Vice President Wang Qishan — who is said to have the ear of President Xi Jinping — as a special envoy to Yoon’s inauguration in a bid to keep Korea from getting too close to the US.

In other news, Yoon has appointed Chang Je-won, a lawmaker with the People Power Party, to head a sympathy delegation to the United Arab Emirates following the death of the country’s president, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, on Friday.

By Bae Ji-hyun, staff reporter

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