(Washington) US President Joe Biden meets his South Korean counterpart Yoon Suk Yeol in Washington on Tuesday on the first day of a state visit meant to seal the alliance between the two countries.
MM. Biden and Yoon are to go in the afternoon, accompanied by their wives, to the Korean War Memorial, located in the center of the capital and showing human-sized steel figurines of soldiers on patrol during the war of Korea (1950-1953) against the Communist North.
The highlight of this state visit on Wednesday will be a meeting at the White House and a gala dinner.
This is only the second state visit by a foreign leader under President Biden, following that of French President Emmanuel Macron last December.
The capital has been adorned with South Korean flags for several days already.
Beyond the ceremony, the two presidents must discuss the strengthening of their cooperation, including military, in the face of North Korea’s nuclear threats.
White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters Monday that the two leaders have had four “exchanges” since Mr. Yoon took office less than a year ago and have could develop “a rapport”.
The alliance “reaches far beyond the Korean peninsula and aims to be a force for good in the Asia-Pacific and across the world,” he said, noting that Mr. Yoon was the first South Korean leader to attend a NATO summit.
On Tuesday, Yoon travels to NASA’s Goddard Center near Washington, with Vice President Kamala Harris.
A sign of the increasingly close cultural ties between the United States and South Korea, Netflix also announced on Tuesday that it would invest $2.5 billion over four years in content produced in South Korea.
The South Korean president met with Netflix boss Ted Sarandos on Monday in New York.
But the US security umbrella will be front and center as the region faces a new record for North Korean ballistic missile launches this year.
Especially since the South Korean leader is struggling to reassure his fellow citizens, who are increasingly nervous about the American commitment to enhanced deterrence to prevent a possible attack against his allies.
Polls show that a majority of South Koreans now want Seoul to have its own nuclear weapon.
President Biden will work to reassure his host of this “broad deterrence”, Sullivan said, promising concrete decisions on this as well as on “digital, climate, digital cooperation.” investment and strengthening ties between our peoples”.
For Park Won-gon, professor of North Korean studies at Ewha University in Seoul, “the United States needs more to show its commitments to deterrence at the alliance level”.
At home, Mr. Yoon is also suffering the backlash of a summit in March with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, accused of neglecting disputes over the treatment of Koreans during the war with Japan – from forced labor to sexual slavery – for the benefit of diplomacy.
During this visit, Washington should also call on Seoul, the 9th arms exporter in the world, to help it further support Ukraine, by providing ammunition and weapons to Kyiv.