The United States believes a summit to be held this week with Japan and South Korea will mark a "new era" of their trilateral cooperation, with the leaders set to agree on ways to "further institutionalize" the framework seen as vital for peace and stability beyond Asia, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday.
Following an online meeting with Japanese and South Korean foreign ministers to prepare for the summit on Friday, Blinken said at a press conference that the steps will include regularizing various high-level meetings. He called Japan and South Korea "core allies" of the United States, not just in the Indo-Pacific region "but around the world."
He stressed that Biden is hosting a "historic" summit with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, pointing out it will be the first time since 2015 for foreign leaders to visit the U.S. presidential retreat of Camp David near Washington.
After the summit, the three leaders are scheduled to release a joint statement and a separate document outlining the principles of the trilateral cooperation, according to officials.
During the online meeting, Blinken and his Japanese and South Korean counterparts, Yoshimasa Hayashi and Park Jin, agreed that cooperation among the three countries has become even more important, not just in their response to North Korea but also for the sake of peace and stability in the world and for a free and open Indo-Pacific, according to Japan's Foreign Ministry.
Unlike past meetings of the three countries, the upcoming summit will be a standalone event rather than a meeting organized on the sidelines of an international gathering.
Aiming for a more intimate setting than the White House, Biden has chosen Camp David as its venue and will host foreign leaders at the rustic retreat for the first time since taking office in 2021.
Biden, as well as Blinken, has strongly welcomed the marked improvement in relations between Japan and South Korea after years of bitter disagreements over wartime history.
Biden, Kishida and Yoon are seeking to expand the scope of cooperation beyond the issue of North Korea, which has repeatedly test-fired ballistic missiles in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions.
According to Blinken, the leaders will discuss other shared priorities such as economic security, emerging technologies, humanitarian assistance and development programs.
It is almost certain they will also discuss the situation surrounding the Taiwan Strait as China has been intensifying its military activities, as well as Russia's war in Ukraine, said the officials, who are involved in preparations for the one-day summit.
But given that South Korea has reservations about openly taking a resolute stance toward China, the officials said, their joint statement may stop short of a direct reference to the world's second-largest economy, which continues to engage in intense geopolitical competition with the United States.