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White House touts trilateral cooperation with S. Korea, Japan as key feat in Indo-Pacific Strategy

Feb. 13, 2024 - 09:22 By Yonhap
White House national security communications adviser John Kirby speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, Monday. (AP-Yonhap)

A White House official on Monday highlighted strengthened trilateral cooperation with South Korea and Japan among key achievements of the Joe Biden administration's Indo-Pacific Strategy unveiled two years ago.

During a press briefing, John Kirby, the National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications, catalogued key examples of progress in the strategy that Washington rolled out to deepen engagement with the region, which it has cast as the "epicenter" of geopolitics in the 21st century.

"The president hosted the leaders in Japan and South Korea to Camp David and really got not only significant developments in terms of our bilateral relationship with each country, each ally, but improved opportunities to get trilateral cooperation in a much better place than it's ever been," he said.

"I could go on and on, including adding capabilities in and around the Korean Peninsula to keep a better eye on what (North Korean leader) Kim Jong-un is doing and of course, bolstering all the rest of our alliances and partnerships in the region," he added.

Kirby was referring to the landmark trilateral summit that President Yoon Suk Yeol, US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida held at Camp David last August.

The summit produced a series of agreements, including the "Commitment to Consult" each other in case of shared security threats. It came in the wake of a thaw in Seoul-Tokyo ties long strained over historical issues stemming from Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule.

Kirby also pointed out the 2021 launch of the AUKUS partnership among the US, Britain and Australia designed to equip Australia with conventionally armed nuclear-powered submarines, as well as strengthening the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue consisting of the US, Japan, Australia and India.

In a fact sheet released last week, the State Department said that since the release of the Indo-Pacific Strategy in February 2022, the US has taken "strides" to advance a shared vision for the region that is "free and open, connected, prosperous, secure, and resilient."

The statement came amid lingering speculation that the US' commitment to the region could weaken amid its focus on responding to Russia's war in Ukraine and growing instability in the Middle East. (Yonhap)