U.S. President Joe Biden will host South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol for a state visit on April 26 to mark the 70th anniversary of the alliance between their countries, the White House said Tuesday.
The itinerary, which includes a state dinner on that day, comes as the Biden administration steps up efforts to boost ties with South Korea and Japan, its most important security allies in Asia, against the backdrop of North Korea's flurry of missile tests and China's rising military and economic power.
As part of preparations for the summit, Biden's national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, held talks with his South Korean counterpart Kim Sung Han in Washington on Tuesday, with the White House saying their discussions covered issues such as North Korea and economic security.
White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement that Washington's longtime alliance with Seoul is "critical to advancing peace, stability, and prosperity for our two countries, the Indo-Pacific, and around the world."
She said that the presidents, to be accompanied by their first ladies during the visit, will "highlight the importance and enduring strength of the ironclad U.S.-ROK alliance as well as the United States' unwavering commitment to the ROK," referring to South Korea by the acronym of its official name, the Republic of Korea.
Yoon's trip will mark the second state visit by a foreign leader to the United States since Biden took office in early 2021, according to the spokeswoman. In December last year, Biden welcomed French President Emmanuel Macron as his first state guest at the White House.
The visit was announced two days after Biden voiced strong support for a South Korean government plan to settle a long-standing dispute with Japan over wartime labor.
In a statement issued late Sunday, Biden said the South Korean proposal will pave the way for a "groundbreaking new chapter of cooperation and partnership between two of the United States' closest allies."
Expressing his aim to further strengthen trilateral relations with the allies, Biden said, "Our countries are stronger -- and the world is safer and more prosperous -- when we stand together."
The alliance between Washington and Seoul dates back to October 1953, when they signed a mutual defense treaty following the conclusion of the Korean War with an armistice rather than a peace treaty.
It will be Yoon's first visit to the United States since he took office in May last year. The last time a South Korean president made a state visit to the United States was October 2011, when Lee Myung Bak was hosted by Barack Obama.
During a press briefing later in the day, Jean-Pierre said the relationship between the two countries has been taken to "unprecedented heights" under the Biden administration in a manner that "benefits our economies and our people and strengthens deterrence in the Indo-Pacific region."
She also praised South Korean companies for having invested tens of billions of dollars in the United States, while noting that the countries' partnership, together with trilateral cooperation involving Japan, has grown into a "truly global and future-oriented alliance" that goes beyond dealing with traditional security issues.
U.S. backs South Korea's plan to end wartime labor dispute with Japan