Biden, S. Korea’s Yoon Set for Talks as Seoul Looks to Strengthen Nuclear Umbrella

President Joe Biden and South Korea’s President Yoon Suk YeolInternationalIndiaAfricaWASHINGTON (Sputnik) – US President Joe Biden and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol will hold a bilateral meeting at the White House on Wednesday with deterring Pyongyang expected to top the agenda.The leaders are also expected discuss the situation in Ukraine. Seoul has felt pressure from Washington and its allies to provide Kiev with military aid.The trip, which marks the first state visit to the United States by a South Korean leader in about 12 years, comes as North Korea advances its nuclear weapons program, highlighted by a recent testing of the Hwansong-18 solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile. Yoon’s visit also marks 70 years since the US-South Korean alliance was established. The White House earlier this week said the two leaders are meeting at a “critical moment.” “President Biden will reinforce and enhance our extended deterrence commitments to South Korea with respect to the threat the DPRK [North Korea] poses,” Biden’s top security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said at a briefing Monday. AsiaNorth Korea to Launch Military Satellite to Target Enemies With Nuclear Missiles19 April, 15:17 GMTMeanwhile, Sullivan’s South Korean counterpart, Kim Tae-hyo, ahead of Yoon’s trip expressed urgency in taking steps toward boosting the defensive nuclear umbrella, saying that expectations for extending deterrence have been “great.” “There are several things that have been carried out over the past year in terms of information sharing, planning and execution,” the South Korean adviser told reporters as quoted by Reuters. “We need to take steps to organize these things so that it can be easily understood to anyone in one big picture, how this is implemented and developed.” Biden will host the bilateral meeting with Yoon Wednesday afternoon, followed by a joint press conference in the White House Rose Garden, according to the official schedule. On Tuesday, Biden, Yoon and their wives visited the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C.The White House said Biden and Yoon will release a statement that deals with extended deterrence but will also announce major deliverables on cyber cooperation, climate mitigation, foreign assistance, and mutual investments.

ARMING UKRAINE

The White House said the two leaders are also expected to discuss the military situation on the ground in Ukraine. The conflict in Ukraine has emerged as a controversial matter between the US and South Korea, given the latter’s reluctance to provide Kiev with ammunition and other weaponry. Despite pressure from the US and its allies, a South Korean presidential official last week said Seoul is not supplying Ukraine with weapons for the sake of stability in relations with Russia, according to Yonhap. One elephant in the room when Biden and Yoon meet is sure to be the recent Pentagon leaks revealing that US intelligence spied on South Korean officials, along with Washington’s angst at Seoul’s reluctance to send weapons to Ukraine. The Critical HourSupposed Intelligence Leak Exposes US Spying on Adversaries and Allies11 April, 10:32 GMTAs Yoon arrived in Washington Tuesday, a South Korean presidential official told reporters that Ukraine may be discussed during the meeting but only as a “global issue.” Yoon, in an NBC interview aired Tuesday, said that the recent Pentagon leaks will not impact the “trust” between the United States and South Korea. Moscow has warned Seoul, a major ammunition-producing state, that sending military assistance to Ukraine will negatively impact Russian-South Korean relations.

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