NC Monitoring Desk
ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE: President Joe Biden left for South Korea and Japan to cement US leadership in Asia at a time when White House’s attention has been pulled back to Russia and Europe and amid fears of a North Korean nuclear test during his trip.
Biden wants trip to build on recent moves accelerating a years-long US pivot to Asia, where rising Chinese commercial and military power is undercutting Washington’s dominance.
But highlighting competing demands from Europe, Biden met right before his departure with leaders of Finland and Sweden to celebrate their applications for joining NATO a seismic development sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
In another sign of growing US involvement in conflict, White House said Biden would put his signature while in Asia on a massive, $ 40 billion Ukraine weapons and aid package passed by Congress.
Signing bill “expeditiously” will ensure no gap in funding flow, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Seoul.
Sullivan said there was “real risk of some kind of provocation while we’re in region, whether in South Korea or Japan.” “We know what we will do to respond to them. We have communicated with not just our allies, but also with China,” he said.
Biden heads to Japan from South Korea on Sunday. He will hold talks with leaders of both countries, as well as joining a regional summit of Quad a grouping of Australia, India, Japan and United States while in Tokyo. During the first leg, he will visit US and South Korean troops, but will not make traditional presidential trek to fortified frontier known as DMZ between South and North Korea, White House said.