December 1, 2022

Biden holds trilateral meeting with President Yoon Suk-Yeol of South Korea and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan, asks journalists pushing and shoving each other to ‘calm down a little bit’

United States President Joseph R. Biden Jr. on participates in a trilateral meeting with President Yoon Suk-Yeol of the Republic of South Korea and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan at the Sokha Hotel on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on Sunday, November 13, 2022. Photo courtesy: White House
United States President Joseph R. Biden Jr. on participates in a trilateral meeting with President Yoon Suk-Yeol of the Republic of South Korea and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan at the Sokha Hotel on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on Sunday, November 13, 2022. Photo courtesy: White House
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United States President Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Sunday participated in a trilateral meeting with President Yoon Suk-Yeol of the Republic of South Korea and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan at the Sokha Hotel on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The American leader had met each of them separately earlier in the day. He had also pulled aside Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese for a chat.

With journalists from other countries’ press pools pushing and shoving each other to gain better positions, President Biden described the chaotic scene that erupted during the spray jokingly as a ‘conflict’, and asked them to “calm down.”

“This is conflict, look at this,” President Biden said, according to a White House pool report. “Gentlemen, calm down a little bit.” He even joked at the end of the spray that “if we can get out without getting hurt, that would be good.” 

President Biden said in brief remarks to the press before their meeting that “Japan and the Republic of Korea are critical allies of the United States,” adding that North Korea has continued its “provocative” behavior and “this partnership is more important than it’s ever been.” 

Biden added that the leaders would discuss a range of issues, including supply chain issues and “How we can preserve peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.” 

They would also discuss, according to Biden, “How we can expand our coordinated support in Ukraine” and how the countries can work towards a “common goal of a free and open Indo-Pacific.” 

“Our countries are more aligned than ever,” President Biden said.

The leaders of Japan and South Korea also delivered brief remarks.

Earlier in the day, President Biden had met each leader separately at the same venue.

The White House said that the meetings with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan and President Yoon Suk-yeol of the Republic of Korea were “to continue enhancing trilateral cooperation throughout the Indo-Pacific, particularly in regard to our joint efforts to address the ongoing threat posed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s unlawful weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs.”

Details of what they ended up discussing in private were not yet available at the time of writing this report at 6.01 a.m. the time in Washington D.C. However, attending the annual East Asia Summit (EAS) in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on Sunday, President Biden “reaffirmed the enduring U.S. commitment to the Indo-Pacific, with ASEAN at its center.” 

“The President reviewed efforts to deliver on his vision for an Indo-Pacific region that is free and open, connected, prosperous, resilient, and secure. President Biden underscored his commitment to working with allies and partners to strengthen health systems, promote food security, address climate change, and accelerate the clean energy transition,” the White House said in a readout. “He reviewed progress in developing an Indo-Pacific Economic Framework that provides concrete benefits to all of its fourteen members and drives enduring and broad-based economic growth throughout the Indo-Pacific. He also highlighted progress in implementing the Indo-Pacific Partnership for Maritime Domain Awareness, through which the United States, Australia, Japan, and India are helping ASEAN nations and other Indo-Pacific partners to undertake marine conservation, counter illegal fishing, and respond to humanitarian disasters.”

It added, “President Biden also addressed pressing regional and global challenges. He underscored that freedom of navigation and overflight must be respected in the East China Sea and South China Sea, and that all disputes must be resolved peacefully and in accordance with international law. He reaffirmed U.S. support for the 2016 UN arbitral tribunal ruling and noted this ruling is final and legally binding. President Biden also raised concerns regarding the threats posed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and he condemned Russia’s brutal and unjust war against Ukraine in the strongest terms. He raised concern regarding the deteriorating crisis in Burma, and highlighted the importance of taking further action to increase pressure on the Burmese military regime to implement the Five Point Consensus, release political prisoners, and provide for a return to the path of democracy.

“President Biden also commented on U.S.-PRC relations, underscoring that the United States will compete vigorously with the PRC and speak out regarding the PRC’s human rights abuses, while keeping lines of communication open and ensuring competition does not veer into conflict. He reaffirmed the importance of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”

President Biden will depart Cambodia on Sunday evening, local time, for Bali, Indonesia, where he will attend the G20 Leaders’ Summit, and hold a high-level bilateral meeting with President Xi Jinping of China.

“In Bali, the President will commend President Widodo’s leadership of the G20 and highlight the U.S. commitment to this premier forum for economic cooperation with countries representing more than 80% of the world’s GDP,” the White House said ahead of the trip.

It added that President Biden “will work with G20 partners to address key challenges such as climate change, the global impact of Putin’s war on Ukraine, including on energy and food security and affordability, and a range of other priorities important to the global economic recovery and building a sustainable and inclusive global economy.” 

READ- Remarks by President Biden, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan, and President Yoon Suk Yeol of the Republic of Korea Before Trilateral Meeting

4:37 P.M. ICT
 
PRESIDENT BIDEN:  Prime Minister Kishida, President Yoon, it’s great to see you both again.  And, Mr. President, I first want to express our deepest condolences to you and the people of Korea for the tragedy in Seoul two weeks ago.  We grieve and stand with you and — and the many families who lost loved ones.
 
Japan and the Republic of Korea are both critical allies of the United States.  And for years, our countries have been engaged in a trilateral cooperation out of a shared concern for the — for the nuclear and missile threats North Korea poses to — to our people.  And North Korea continues provocation — provocative behavior.  This partnership is even more important than it’s ever been.
 
We’re also deepening our cooperation and collaboration on a range of other challenges.  Today, we’ll discuss how we can strengthen our supply chains and economic resilience, and how we can preserve peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits, and how we can expand our coordinated support for Ukraine, and how we can work toward the common goals of a free and open Indo-Pacific.
 
And we face real challenges, but our countries are more aligned than ever, more prepared to take on those challenges than ever.
 
So, I look forward to deepening the bonds of cooperation between our three countries and thank both of you for your friendship as well as your partnership.
 
And I yield the floor to Prime Minister Kishida.
 
PRIME MINISTER KISHIDA:  (As interpreted.)  Again, from myself, President Yoon, I would also like to once again extend my deep condolences to the victims of the painful incident that occurred at Itaewon.
 
Now North Korea’s provocations, unprecedented both in their frequency and their manner, continue.  And we assume that there could be more coming. 
 
So, it is extremely, truly timely that the Japan-U.S.-ROK trilateral summit is being held at such a juncture.  And I truly hope that our trilateral cooperation will be cemented further as we counter such challenges resolutely.
 
Thank you.
 
PRESIDENT BIDEN:  Thank you.  President Yoon.
 
PRESIDENT YOON:  (As interpreted.)  Following our encounters in New York last September, I am delighted to meet with President Biden and Prime Minister Kishida once again.
 
In a tragic incident that occurred recently, the lives of two Americans and two Japanese were lost, for which I am deeply saddened and heartbroken.
 
For the victims of the Itaewon incident, you have given us warm words of condolences.  And I thank you very much.
 
This Korea-U.S.-Japan summit is being held again in five months at a very timely moment indeed.  The current developments on the Korean Peninsula and in the region and beyond require the strongest level of our trilateral coordination.
 
Notably, North Korea, emboldened by its nuclear and missile capabilities, is attempting even more hostile and aggressive provocations.
 
Since I took office in May, North Korea has launched some 50 missiles to date.  And from the end of October to early November, its missile-firing was intensive — one of which flew over the eastern part of the Northern Limit Line and landed in our territorial waters.  First time this has ever happened since the division of the Peninsula — an extremely serious provocation indeed.
 
At a time when South Koreans are grieving in deep sorrow, North Korea pushed ahead with its — with such provocations, which lays bare the Kim Jong Un regime’s true inclinations that completely go against humanitarianism and humanism.
 
In safeguarding universal values and attaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia, our trilateral coordination remains a strong bulwark.
 
Through this meeting today, I hope we will step up cooperation among our three nations.
 
Thank you.
 
PRESIDENT BIDEN:  Well, the trilateral cooperation is extreme, it’s extensive, and it’s real.  And it’s not going to — it’s going to be sustained.
 
(Addressing the press.)  And if you all can leave without hurting one another, it’d be a nice thing to see.
 
4:43 P.M. ICT

The trilateral meeting with President Yoon Suk-Yeol of the Republic of South Korea and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan had in attendance the following participants:

U.S. Delegation

U.S. President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

T.H. Antony Blinken, Secretary of State

T.H. Jake Sullivan, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

T.H. Kurt Campbell, Deputy Assistant to the President and Coordinator for the Indo-Pacific, National Security Council

T.H. Dan Kritenbrink, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs

T.H. Edgard Kagan, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for East Asia and Oceania, National Security Council

Ms. Henrietta Levin, Director for Southeast Asia, National Security Council

Japan Delegation

H.E. Kishida Fumio, Prime Minister of Japan

Mr. Isozaki Yoshihiko, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary

Mr. Akiba Takeo, Secretary General of the National Security Secretariat

Mr. Yamada Shigeo, Senior Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs

Mr. Funakoshi Takehiro, Director-General, Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau

Mr. Shimada Takashi, Executive Secretary to the Prime Minister

Mr. Otsuru Tetsuya, Executive Secretary to the Prime Minister

South Korea Delegation

H.E. Yoon Suk-Yeol, President of the Republic of Korea

H.E. Park Jin, Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Kim Sung Han, National Security Advisor

Mr. Choi Sang Mak, Senior Economic Secretary

Mr. Kim Tae Hyo, First Deputy National Security Advisor

Mr. Lee Moon Hee, Secretary to the President for Foreign Affairs

Mr. Lim Sang Woo, Director-General for North American Affairs, Ministry for Foreign Aff

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