U.S. President Joe Biden, Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, and South Korea's President Yoon Suk Yeol greet each other ahead of a trilateral meeting during the G7 Leaders' Summit, in May, in Hiroshima, Japan. The three leaders will meet again this Friday for a first-ever trilateral summit at Camp David. File photo by Japan's PM Press Office/UPI | License Photo
Aug. 15 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden will host the prime minister of Japan and the president of South Korea this Friday for a first-ever trilateral summit at Camp David.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters Tuesday that the upcoming summit between Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol will mark "what we believe is a new era in trilateral cooperation among our countries."
It is "the first time foreign leaders have visited Camp David since 2015; the first standalone summit ever between our three countries," Blinken said.
"This summit comes at a moment when our region and the world are being tested by geopolitical competition, by climate crisis, by Russia's aggression against Ukraine, by nuclear provocations," Blinken added, as he discussed the virtual meetings he held to prepare with his counterparts in Japan and South Korea.
The summit also comes as the United States and South Korea prepare to hold a major joint military exercise next week in response to evolving nuclear and missile threats from North Korea. The Ulchi Freedom Shield exercise -- which is held every year and includes live field maneuvers, computer-simulated exercises and civil defense drills -- will be conducted over ten days starting Aug. 21.
"Our heightened engagement is part of our broader efforts to revitalize, to strengthen, to knit together our alliances and partnerships and in this case to help realize a shared vision of an Indo-Pacific that is free and open, prosperous, secure, resilient and connected," Blinken told reporters Tuesday.
"Japan and South Korea are core allies, not just in the region but around the world," Blinken said. "Strengthening our trilateral cooperation is critical to delivering for our people for the region and for the world."
Last month, North Korea and China reaffirmed their communist nations' close military ties in a top-level Pyongyang meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and a Chinese delegation led by politburo member Li Hongzhong.
The meeting followed Kim's vow to conduct a series of "stronger military offensives" against the United States as he test-fired a Hwasong-18 solid-fuel ICBM days earlier. Pyongyang has condemned enhanced military cooperation between the United States and South Korea.
While Blinken did not address the specific provocations, he called this week's trilateral alliance a "force multiplier for good" to "promote peace and stability" and to further our "commitment to the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."
"Together, the leaders will have an opportunity to discuss and to strengthen practical cooperation on a variety of shared priorities, from physical security to economic security, for humanitarian assistance to development finance, from global health to critical and emerging technologies," he said.
In October, President Biden will host Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese for an official state visit to strengthen relations amid growing tensions with China.
On Tuesday, Blinken said building cooperation between the United States, Japan and South Korea is something he has been "working on for many, many years," starting as deputy secretary of state under then Vice President Biden. Blinken said he held six trilateral meetings between 2015 and 2016 and then convened six more trilaterals as Secretary of State.
"Over the years, we have moved from addressing difficult and sensitive issues of history to an increasingly ambitious and affirmative agenda, and as we look to the future this growing partnership will continue to enable us to do more for the security and prosperity of all."