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Moon, Biden to hold summit in Washington next month

South Korean President Moon Jae-in will visit Washington, D.C., for a summit with U.S. President Joe Biden next month to discuss issues such as North Korean denuclearization, both administrations announced. Photo by Yonhap
South Korean President Moon Jae-in will visit Washington, D.C., for a summit with U.S. President Joe Biden next month to discuss issues such as North Korean denuclearization, both administrations announced. Photo by Yonhap

SEOUL, April 16 (UPI) -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in will meet face-to-face with U.S. President Joe Biden in Washington, D.C., next month, the White House and South Korea's presidential Blue House confirmed.

"President Biden looks forward to welcoming President Moon of the Republic of Korea to the White House in the second half of May," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said at a briefing on Thursday.

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Psaki said the date for the visit had not yet been finalized.

The summit "will highlight the ironclad U.S.-South Korea alliance and the longstanding ties and friendships between the people of our two countries," she said.

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Blue House spokesman Kang Min-seok said Friday that the upcoming summit "shows the strong will of the two leaders to value the ROK-U.S. alliance and develop it in a more comprehensive and reciprocal way." The Republic of Korea is the official name of South Korea.

The two leaders have spoken on the phone twice -- in November, shortly after Biden was elected, and again in January after Biden's inauguration.

The meeting "is expected to serve as an opportunity for in-depth strategic communication and cooperation between the two countries on key issues such as the ROK-U.S. alliance and North Korea policy," Kang said.

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The Biden administration is currently undergoing a review of its North Korea policy, one which Kang said should be concluded around the time of Moon's visit.

Nuclear negotiations have remained stalled since a summit in February 2019 between then-U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ended without an agreement. Pyongyang had been seeking concessions such as the easing of international sanctions in exchange for taking steps toward dismantling its nuclear arsenal, while Washington held firm on complete denuclearization first.

Kang said that the Biden-Moon meeting will "serve as an opportunity to devise a joint strategy not only in the process of reviewing North Korea policies but also in the implementation process."

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So far, the Biden administration has not revealed details about the type of approach it intends to take toward North Korea.

"Our objective is a denuclearized North Korea," Psaki said Thursday. "That remains our focus."

Biden has made a significant shift from the previous Trump administration in terms of consulting closely with allies on foreign policy matters.

On Friday, Biden is welcoming Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to the White House for his first in-person meeting with a foreign leader -- a sign of the emphasis his administration is placing on allies in Asia as it seeks to deal with challenges such as an increasingly assertive China.

U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan hosted his counterparts from South Korea and Japan earlier this month for a trilateral summit, while Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin visited both countries on a trip to the region last month.

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