After years of Donald Trump’s claims that Seoul is ripping off America, Joe Biden and South Korean President Moon Jae-In finally will seek to heal the allies’ strained relationship. Last Friday on 21st, President Joe Biden hosted South Korean President Moon Jae-In at the White House. It was Biden’s second in-person meeting with a foreign leader since taking office.
Ahead of Friday’s meeting, Moon had emphasized the importance of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and indicated that he planned to push Biden to resume talks with North Korea, which now has more nuclear weapons than ever.
“Today we made important progress on a range of issues,” Biden said during a news conference. Biden said that he expressed to Moon the United States’ “willingness to engage diplomatically” with North Korea in an effort to take “pragmatic steps that will reduce tensions as we move towards our ultimate goal of denuclearization.” “The most urgent common task that our two countries must undertake is achieving complete denuclearization and permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula,” Moon also stressed.
Biden did not rule out the possibility of meeting with the North Korean leader Friday, but said that there would have to be a commitment to discuss North Korea’s nuclear arsenal in order for that to happen.
Biden and Moon also discussed global COVID-19 vaccine supplies, climate change, strengthening cybersecurity, 5G network, semiconductors, among other topics.
According to data by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency, only around 7 percent of the South Korean population has received at least one doses of a coronavirus vaccine. South Korean health extended social distancing rules for another three weeks Friday as infections continued to spread throughout the country.
Biden said he would give 550,000 vaccinations to Korean service members who engage regularly with U.S. forces. The leaders also committed to working together to boost vaccine supplies in the region.
However, last Friday’s summit talk will be just the prelude to difficult conversations on everything from North Korea to human rights, and experts expect no immediate major foreign policy agreements.
“There is a fundamental difference in Biden’s philosophy and that of Moon,” said Soo Kim, a former CIA analyst who is policy analyst at the Rand Corporation. The two differ on pursuing peace with Pyongyang, other defense priorities, and even leadership styles. On North Korea, the Moon administration sees now as its “last best chance” to strike a peace deal as the president Moon enters the final year of his term and hopes to leave a legacy of ending conflict.
Vice President Kamala Harris also met with Moon on Friday morning, stating in brief remarks that they would be discussing a range of issues including “challenges that exist on the Korean Peninsula.”