Biden Conditionally Supports Japan-North Korea Summit, Emphasizes Close Coordination with U.S., Japan, and South Korea

Biden Conditionally Supports Japan-North Korea Summit, Emphasizes Close Coordination with U.S., Japan, and South Korea

Senior U.S. Official: Biden Conditionally Backs Potential Japan-North Korea Summit

According to a senior American official who spoke on the condition of anonymity, U.S. President Joe Biden would conditionally support a summit between Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The official stated that such a meeting would depend on close coordination among the United States, Japan, and South Korea. The official emphasized that President Biden and his team endorse engagement with North Korea by any like-minded country if it is deemed meaningful and results-oriented.

In a recent interview with Nikkei, Prime Minister Kishida expressed the urgency of achieving a visit to Pyongyang. However, last month, Kim Yo Jong, the influential sister of North Korea's leader, dismissed the possibility of dialogue with Japan, including a summit between leaders, accusing Tokyo of clinging to past issues.

Prime Minister Kishida is scheduled to travel to Washington next week for a summit with President Biden and a trilateral meeting with the U.S. president and Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. The official highlighted the close relationship between Japan, the United States, and South Korea on North Korea-related matters, stating that if any of the countries pursue high-level diplomacy with North Korea, close consultation would ensure that each country's goals and objectives are represented.
Meanwhile, a potential challenge in the U.S.-Japan relationship is Nippon Steel's proposed acquisition of U.S. Steel. Prime Minister Kishida clarified that the deal would not be on the agenda for his meeting with President Biden. He acknowledged that Japan is the largest investor in the U.S. and plays a significant role in American employment. President Biden previously emphasized the importance of U.S. Steel remaining domestically owned and operated.

The Biden administration anticipates media inquiries about the deal during Prime Minister Kishida's visit but remains confident that it will not disrupt bilateral ties. The senior U.S. official affirmed that the U.S.-Japan alliance is currently at its strongest.

During Prime Minister Kishida's visit to Washington, expanding defense cooperation will be a key agenda item. The U.S. and Japan are actively working on initiatives related to force integration and alliance command and control, aiming to enhance cooperation between U.S. Forces Japan and the Japan Self-Defense Forces. The official emphasized the commitment to ensure that the alliance is operationally prepared to address present challenges and not solely reliant on past alliance structures.
Furthermore, discussions between the two leaders will also focus on bolstering cooperation between the U.S. and Japanese defense industrial bases. The official stated that there will be announcements regarding co-production, co-maintenance, and co-sustainment of defense equipment, which are essential for the security of both countries. The official expressed confidence that Prime Minister Kishida's visit will mark the beginning of a new era of defense industrial cooperation between the United States and Japan.

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