President Biden, speaking alongside his Japanese and South Korean counterparts on Sunday, said that the countries’ trilateral partnership is more important in the wake of “provocative” behavior from North Korea.
“This partnership is more important than it’s ever been,” Biden said during a meeting on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
The U.S. and South Korea held joint air force drills dubbed “Vigilant Storm,” which involved F-35 fighter jets and more than 200 warplanes, that ended earlier this month. North Korea vowed to respond, calling the U.S. the “chief culprit in destroying peace and security.”
North Korea fired a barrage of ballistic missiles in recent weeks, saying they included tests meant to practice striking South Korean and U.S. air bases, command systems and aircraft.
Biden on Sunday called the behavior “provocative” and stressed the importance of the trilateral alliance in responding.
“Japan and the Republic of Korea are critical allies of the United States,” Biden said.
At the trilateral meeting, both Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol echoed similar sentiments about the North Korean threat.
Kishida called the meeting “extremely timely.”
Yoon said the developments in the peninsula “require the strongest level of our trilateral cooperation.”
“At a time when South Koreans are grieving in deep sorrow, North Korea continues its provocations,” Yoon said, referencing the crowd crush in Seoul late last month that killed more than 100 people.
Biden and Kishida offered Yoon condolences for the tragedy during the meeting.
Source: The Hill