U.S. President Joe Biden kicked off his trip to Asia on Friday with a visit to a Samsung Electronics Co. chip plant in South Korea to highlight the importance of beefing up supply chains.

The president met with new South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol for the first time at the site and toured the world's largest chip plant in Pyeongtaek, about 70 kilometers south of Seoul, in a show of their commitment to closer cooperation in building a resilient supply chain.

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers a speech at a Samsung Electronics Co. chip plant in the surburbs of Seoul on May 20, 2022. Seen on the left is South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol. (Kyodo)

The COVID-19 pandemic underscored the fragility of supply chains, and a global chip crunch led to a shortfall of related consumer products, such as autos, causing higher prices that the war in Ukraine has exacerbated, Biden said during his speech at the plant.

"A critical component...is by working with close partners, who do share our values, like the Republic of Korea, to secure more of what we need from our allies and partners and bolster supply chain resilience," Biden said.

In his speech at the plant, Yoon echoed the U.S. leader's view, saying Biden's visit offers "a great chance to review the meaning of a 'global comprehensive strategic alliance' through semiconductors."

"I hope South Korea-U.S. ties could develop into an economic security alliance based on high technology and cooperation on supply chains after today's visit," Yoon added.

The tour, also attended by Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae Yong, came as Biden plans to announce the launch of an Indo-Pacific economic initiative during his stay in Japan, the second leg of his tour after South Korea.

About 10 countries, including South Korea and Japan, are expected to join the framework that the Biden administration has proposed as a key vehicle for U.S. engagement in a region expected to drive global growth for years to come.

Yoon, who was sworn in as president on May 10, and Biden will be holding their first summit on Saturday, the earliest-ever bilateral meeting for a South Korean leader to have with his American counterpart. North Korea issues and economic cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region will be the main focus of their discussions.

Biden is flying to Tokyo on Sunday for a summit with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Monday. He will join a summit of the "Quad" group, which also involves Australia and India, on Tuesday.