Before President Joe Biden left South Korea for Japan on Sunday, he delivered a brief message to Kim Jong Un, whose nuclear strike has hit the US leader’s first-ever visit to Asia: “Hello. Period.”
He offered a brief greeting when reporters asked if he had anything to say to the leader of North Korea, highlighting his administration’s openness to talks with Pyongyang, even as they jointly negotiate with South Korea. Looking to increase military exercises.
Biden said he was “not concerned” about the risks of a new weapons test in the region – something US officials have warned repeatedly – saying: “We are ready for anything North Korea does.”
They have spent two days with newly-elected South Korean President Yoon Suk-yol, with the pair saying on Saturday that “given the growing threat” from Pyongyang, they are considering expanding the “scope and scale” of joint military exercises. Were were
North Korea has tested sanctions-wielding weapons this year, including firing an intercontinental ballistic missile at full range for the first time since 2017, with satellite imagery indicating a nuclear test is about to take place.
Because of the Covid and for Biden and Yoon’s predecessors, Donald Trump and Moon Jae-in, the joint exercise with North Korea was called off to start a period of high-profile but ultimately unsuccessful diplomacy.
Unlike Dovish Moon, Yoon said he and Biden discussed “joint exercises for nuclear strike preparedness” and called for more strategic US assets to be deployed in the region.
Any build-up of forces or expansion of joint military exercises could anger Pyongyang, which sees the exercises as a rehearsal for an invasion.
North Korea’s weapons testing program could also be affected by the raging Kovid-19 outbreak.
State media said on Sunday that there have been more than 2.6 million cases of “fever” since the Omicron coronavirus variant was first detected in April.
Biden and Yoon offered help to North Korea, which has an underserved population and a crumbling health system, saying in a statement that they are “ready to work with the international community to provide aid”.
Biden said he would not exclude a meeting with Kim if the North Korean leader was “honest”.
“We have offered vaccines not only to North Korea but also to China, and we are ready to do so immediately,” Biden told a news conference with Yun. “We haven’t received a response.”
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Earlier on Sunday, Biden met with the chairman of Hyundai to celebrate the South Korean auto giant’s decision to invest $5.5 billion in an electric vehicle plant in the southern US state of Georgia.
He also met with U.S. and South Korean troops with Yoon, an event that a senior White House official said was able to “reflect a truly unified nature” of the countries’ economic and military alliance.
Biden used his visit to call on allies to deepen ties, with Yoon telling a news conference that Asia was a key battleground in the global “competition between democracies and autocracies”.
“We talked at some length about the need to make it bigger than not just the United States, Japan and Korea, but the entire Pacific and the South Pacific and the Indo-Pacific. I think this is an opportunity,” Biden said.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)