President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will agree next week to pave the way for jointly developing key defense equipment as the decades-old alliance between the United States and Japan should enter a new stage for the stability of the Indo-Pacific region, a top U.S. diplomat said Wednesday.

Speaking at a time of increasing security challenges from countries such as China and North Korea, Kurt Campbell, deputy secretary of state, said the Biden administration is trying to "clear the way for a greater array of cooperation" between Washington and its allies including Tokyo.

"One of the things that I think you'll see next week (is) steps for the first time that will allow the United States and Japan to work more collaboratively on joint development and potentially co-production of vital military and defense equipment," Campbell said at a think tank event in Washington.

Kurt Campbell. (Kyodo)

Campbell, a major architect of the administration's approach to Asia, refrained from offering specific planned outcomes of the meeting. But he hinted last month that Biden and Kishida are expected to express their intent to start working on a new command and control structure for the alliance.

As part of efforts to reinforce the interoperability between U.S. and Japanese forces, officials of the two countries have also suggested that Biden and Kishida would agree to step up defense industry cooperation.

During the event at the Center for a New American Security on Wednesday, Campbell said, "I think one of the lessons that we've learned through COVID is that some of these supply chains on the military side are so narrow and easily clogged that we are going to need to have more capacity in play."

Biden will host Kishida for talks and a state dinner next Wednesday. It will be the first visit to the United States by a Japanese prime minister as a state guest since 2015.

Campbell, a former coordinator for the Indo-Pacific at the National Security Council, said the meeting between Biden and Kishida will underscore that the U.S.-Japan relationship will enter "a fundamentally new phase" bringing both "new capabilities" and "clear responsibilities" to each side.

Calling the alliance "the cornerstone of our engagement in the Indo-Pacific," Campbell, who became the country's second-highest ranking diplomat in February, said Washington is interested in sharing as much sensitive information and technology as possible with close partners such as Tokyo to maintain peace and stability in the region.

Asked about the durability of the cooperation with Japan and other major democratic countries seen under the Biden administration, given that a U.S. presidential election is looming in November, the seasoned diplomat voiced confidence that such efforts will continue "under almost any political circumstances."

Noting that bipartisan support for the United States boosting ties with its allies remains strong, Campbell said he does not believe that isolationist and nationalistic views "comport with the sentiments of the American public or the general policy platforms" of either the Democratic or Republican party.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (R) shakes hands with U.S. President Joe Biden ahead of their talks in Hiroshima on May 18, 2023, on the sidelines of the three-day Group of Seven summit in the western Japan city. (Kyodo)

On the day after Kishida's meeting with Biden, which Campbell said will be a "seminal and historic" event, the Japanese leader is slated to address a joint session of Congress and participate in an unprecedented trilateral summit also involving Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Campbell said, without going into detail, that the three leaders will make commitments toward dealing with issues related to the South China Sea and elsewhere.

The three-way summit will be held as the United States and Japan seek to increase joint defense exercises with Australia, Britain and the Philippines against the backdrop of China's military buildup and territorial assertiveness.

Last month, vessels from China, which claims sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea, once again hit a Philippine boat with water cannons near the Manila-controlled Second Thomas Shoal.

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