Joe Biden on a Two-Day Visit to South KoreaVice President Joe Biden is on a two-day visit to South Korean‚ where he will meet with the country's new president and tour the Samsung Electronics plant. Biden and Yoon are expected to attend events together for the entire day Saturday. Yoon said the Biden visit will strengthen the alliance between the US and South Korea. But it's not all sunny days in South Korea.
SEOUL (AP)‚ President Joe Biden spent Saturday establishing ties with South Korea's new president Yoon Souk Yeol. The two countries were collaborating on ways to counter the threat posed by North Korea‚ at a time of little prospect for real diplomacy. Biden informed his counterpart during a meeting‚ that their alliance was based upon shared sacrifice. This would be elevated as the focus on national security will now include a greater emphasis on technology and trade. The U.S. president stated that our two countries are working together to face both the challenges and opportunities of the moment. Two very different countries have emerged from the Korean peninsula's division after World War II. Biden visits South Korea's factories to see next-generation cars and computer chips. He also engages in discussions for more cooperation. However‚ in North Korea there's a coronavirus epidemic in an unvaccinated autocrat that is best able to command attention from the rest of the world by using its nuclear weapons. As Vice President Biden was flying to South Korea on Air Force One‚ Jake Sullivan‚ White House national security advisor‚ said that the U.S. had coordinated with Seoul (and Tokyo) about how it would respond if the North conducted a nuclear or missile test while Biden was there or shortly thereafter. Sullivan spoke earlier this week with Yang Jiechi‚ his Chinese counterpart. He urged Beijing not to allow the North to continue the missile strikes. Biden spent Saturday with Yoon as part of his five-day Asia visit. Yoon was only a week old when he assumed office. Biden's task was to reassure South Korea of the U.S. commitment in countering North Koreas Kim Jong Un. Seoul is worried that Washington will revert to its strategic patience policy‚ which ignored North Korea until the administration showed seriousness about denuclearization. This approach was criticised for neglecting North Korea as it built its nuclear arsenal. The prospects of real nuclear diplomacy seem slim given that North Korea continues to ignore U.S. and South Korean offers of help with COVID-19. This has stifled hopes for cooperation which could ease tensions‚ or lead to negotiations. According to officials from the Biden administration‚ Yoon and Biden are still expected to meet to discuss how to collaborate with international communities to provide the North the necessary vaccines and testing. On Saturday‚ the U.S. President laid a wreath at Seoul National Cemetery. He wore white gloves and an expression of sadness as he lit incense. Biden met Yoon at Peoples House to greet him and make brief remarks. They will hold a news conference together and then attend the National Museum of Korea's leaders dinner. Both leaders want to focus on North Korea and trade as both Samsung and Hyundai‚ two Korean industrial giants‚ are opening large plants in the U.S. While Biden is facing growing criticism from the U.S. about inflation at a forty-year high‚ his administration still sees one economic victory in their battle for Pacific influence. Bloomberg Economics Analysis predicts that the U.S. will experience faster economic growth than China this year‚ which White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre credits to Biden's investment in coronavirus relief. This also led to higher job growth. Russia's invasion of Ukraine is the national security issue that is driving broader discussion between these two countries. This war has resulted in unprecedented sanctions being imposed by the U.S. along with its allies. South Korea supported the U.S.'s efforts to impose export restrictions against Russia and block Russian banks accessing the SWIFT payment system. Russia was unable to access computer chips or other technology that could be used for economic and military development without South Korea's involvement. Many White House officials believed that Kim's nukes would be the most difficult challenge facing the administration at the beginning of his administration. They also thought that Biden would try to put Biden to the test early in his tenure. Throughout the 14 month period of Biden’s presidency‚ Pyongyang resisted missile testing and ignored attempts by the administration through back channels to resume talks to denuclearize the North in exchange for sanctions relief. The quiet did not last. This year North Korea tested 16 missiles‚ with the most recent being in March when it flew its first intercontinental missile-launched missile since 2017. It also demonstrated that it could reach all of America's mainland. Biden's administration has called on China to stop North Korea engaging in missile and nuclear testing. Sullivan spoke on Air Force One and said that Biden could call Chinese President Xi Jinping in the next few weeks. Biden has criticized Beijing for its human rights record and trade practices as well as military harassment on Taiwan‚ the island that is self-rule. Biden made it clear that China is the United States' most important economic and national security rival. However‚ he believes it crucial to maintain open communication between the two countries so they can work together on matters of mutual concern. Perhaps North Korea ranks highest among those. Officials at the White House said that Biden will not visit the Demilitarized Area dividing Korea's peninsula while he is there -- something which has been a standard practice for Presidents since Ronald Reagan's Seoul visits. Biden was vice president when he visited the DMZ last year. Sullivan stated that the decision of the President to skip this stop was not based on security concerns. Biden will instead visit Osan Air Base's Combat Operations Floor‚ which is located south of Seoul‚ at the Air Operations Center. It is considered one of America's most important installations in Northeast Asia. ___ This report was contributed by Kim Tong-Hyung‚ an Associated Press journalist.