SEOUL (Fwrd Axis) — President Joe Biden and his South Korean counterpart vowed on Saturday to “expand the scope and scale of combined military exercises and training on and around the Korean Peninsula,” according to a joint statement released following a meeting between the two leaders.
Biden and President Yoon Suk-yeol met for over an hour on Saturday at People’s House in Seoul, reaffirming “their commitment to strengthen the U.S.-ROK alliance and to broaden its focus beyond the Korean Peninsula to take on global challenges, including threats to the rules-based international order.”
Following the meeting, both leaders held a joint press conference and agreed to keep pressure on Russia as its war with Ukraine enters the three-month mark. The two countries also vowed to hold bigger military drills and deploy more U.S. weapons in an effort to discourage North Korea from any nuclear attack.
Speaking during the press conference, Biden was asked by an American media member if he would meet with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.
“That would depend on whether he was sincere and whether he was serious,” Biden said in response.
Biden also confirmed reporting earlier in the day that the United States has offered Covid-19 vaccinations to North Korea and China, which has seen spikes in cases, and can have them available for shipment “immediately” but has not yet heard back from the North Korean government.
North Korea reported more than 200,000 new patients suffering from high fever as of Saturday morning but has no vaccines or other modern treatment for the global pandemic.
Yoon said during the joint press conference that economic security will include cooperating in case of shocks in the foreign exchange market.
Prior to starting their meeting, the U.S. President said he is hoping South Korea will be a willing economic partner who can also help advance security goals for the Asia-Pacific.
“Our alliance between our countries is built upon shared sacrifice and a joint commitment to the freedom of the Republic of Korea and our firm opposition to changing borders by force,” Biden said. “Today, with this visit, we’re taking the cooperation between our two countries to new heights.”
Biden will attend a state dinner later Saturday as he stays in Asia over the weekend in his first visit to the country since taking office. The White House said Biden hopes to convey he remains committed to two of the most important US alliances despite Russia’s ongoing war with Ukraine.