President Joe Biden is scheduled to travel to South Korea and Japan in May, his first trip to Asia since taking office last year. He will consult with two of Washington’s main Asian allies amid threats from rival China and regional foe North Korea.
The announcement was made by White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Wednesday, who said the trip would be May 20 through 24. In her statement Psaki said both allies host significant U.S. military contingents, and the trip comes as North Korea has escalated its nuclear missile testing and China has grown more assertive in the region.
Psaki also said, “Biden will meet the leaders of the two countries with the aim of advancing his administration’s rock solid commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific and to U.S. treaty alliances with the Republic of Korea and Japan.”
Biden will meet separately with newly elected President Yoon Suk Yeol of the Republic of Korean and Prime Minister Kishida Fumio of Japan, according to Psaki. “Biden will discuss opportunities to deepen our vital security relationships, enhance economic ties, and expand our close cooperation to delivery practical results,” Psaki added.
In Tokyo, Biden will also meet with the so-called “Quad,” leaders, which also includes Australia, Japan, and India, as they are seen as a bulwark, forging for stronger partnerships to contain China in the Indo-Pacific.
The Biden administration has repeatedly characterized the Asia-Pacific region, and particularly the rise of communist China, as the number one strategic issue for the United States.
It will be Biden’s fourth foreign trip as president. He traveled to Poland and Belgium in March following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.