S. Korea, US, Japan vow to take cooperation to new level in Hiroshima

Posted on : 2023-05-22 16:42 KST Modified on : 2023-05-22 17:08 KST
In a brief meeting on the sidelines of the G7 summit, Biden invited Yoon and Kishida to Washington for a summit in the future
President Yoon Suk-yeol of South Korea (right) speaks with President Joe Biden of the US and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan on May 21 on the sidelines of the Group of Seven summit in Hiroshima. (Yonhap)
President Yoon Suk-yeol of South Korea (right) speaks with President Joe Biden of the US and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan on May 21 on the sidelines of the Group of Seven summit in Hiroshima. (Yonhap)

The leaders of South Korea, the US, and Japan used the Group of Seven summit in Hiroshima, Japan, as an opportunity to decide on “advancing trilateral cooperation to a new level,” which includes strengthening deterrence against North Korea and economic and national security cooperation.

Sunday’s meeting consisted of a two-minute exchange of greetings and a photo op, and Biden brought up the possibility of a trilateral summit to Yoon and Kishida in Washington.

Lee Do-woon, the spokesperson for the presidential office, released a written briefing following the meeting stating, “The leaders decided to strengthen deterrence against North Korea and also further strengthen trilateral strategic cooperation on the premise of consolidating a free and open international order based on the rule of law.”

He also added that the three leaders have “decided to deepen explicit cooperation in various areas, such as trilateral security cooperation that includes real-time sharing of North Korean missile warning information, trilateral cooperation on the Indo-Pacific strategy, economic and national security issues, and engagement with the Pacific Islands.” The trilateral meeting comes six months after the last one in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, which was held in November 2022.

In Hiroshima, the three leaders reaffirmed the statement adopted in Phnom Penh, which addressed not only the North Korean nuclear and missile threat, but also checking China and Russia, a shared concern of the US and Japan.

The White House released a statement saying, “[President Biden] commended Prime Minister Kishida and President Yoon on their courageous work to improve their bilateral ties, noting that our trilateral partnership and the Indo-Pacific are stronger because of their efforts.”

However, the meeting lasted less than two minutes. This was likely due to Biden’s urgent need to return to Washington to negotiate an increase in the US federal debt ceiling and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s surprise visit to Hiroshima. As a result, the leaders were unable to formally discuss issues such as sharing real-time information on North Korean missiles or revitalizing economic and national security dialogue between the three countries.

Biden invited his South Korean and Japanese counterparts for a trilateral summit in Washington in the future, a senior US administration official stated, adding that the specific date of the summit will be coordinated among the leaders of the three countries.

Earlier in the day, Yoon and Kishida visited the memorial to Korean victims of the atomic bomb at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. The two leaders also held another bilateral summit, only two weeks after their meeting in Seoul on May 7.

Yoon also held talks with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine and stated that Korea “will endeavor to promptly provide Ukraine with necessary supplies, such as demining equipment and emergency transportation vehicles.”

Yoon ended his three-day trip to Japan and returned to South Korea on Sunday afternoon.

By Kim Mi-na, staff reporter; Lee Bon-young, Washington correspondent

Please direct questions or comments to [english@hani.co.kr]

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