South Korean President Moon to visit White House on May 21

Meeting will mark the only second in-person summit with a foreign leader from Asia highlighting US president’s focus on the region.

Seoul said Moon and Biden's decision to hold an in-person summit despite the pandemic demonstrates the importance of the two nations' alliance [File: Yonhap via Reuters]

South Korean President Moon Jae-in will visit the White House on May 21 for talks with US President Joe Biden, highlighting the “ironclad alliance” between the two countries, the White House said on Thursday.

“President Biden looks forward to working with President Moon to further strengthen our alliance and expand our close cooperation,” the White House said in a statement.

The event will mark the second in-person summit with a foreign leader of Biden’s presidency, which began in January.

Both meetings have been with Asian allies. The first, earlier this month, was with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.

Moon’s senior press secretary, Chung Man-ho, told a televised briefing that the two leaders will reaffirm the solidity of their countries’ alliance and look forward to expanding comprehensive and reciprocal cooperation based on the friendship of the two nations.

Moon and Biden’s decision to hold an in-person summit despite the “difficult” situations due to the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates the importance of the Seoul-Washington alliance, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency quoted Chung as saying.

Moon had previously held several talks with Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump particularly on the issue of denuclearisation of North Korea.

Biden has identified China’s rise as the pre-eminent geopolitical challenge facing the United States, and he has been working to shore up support among allies in the region to counter what the United States regards as abusive market and human rights practices of China.

“The meeting will also address close cooperation between South Korea and the US to make progress on the complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and a lasting peace policy, as well as practical cooperation, including on economy and trade, and the response to global challenges such as climate change and COVID-19,” Chung said.

Biden’s Democrats administration says it is in the final stages of its review of the policy to stem the nuclear programme in North Korea.

North Korea has rejected unilateral disarmament and given no indication that it is willing to go beyond statements of broad support for the concept of universal denuclearisation.

Source: Al Jazeera, Reuters