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Japan, South Korea, U.S. agree at Camp David summit to expand security ties

The Associated Press

The leaders of Japan and South Korea joined United States President Joe Biden in August 2023 for a historic summit at the U.S. presidential retreat Camp David in Maryland, cementing a new security agreement among allies facing increasingly tense relations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and North Korea.

At the close of his talks with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, President Biden said the nations would establish a hotline to discuss responses to threats.

“Our countries are stronger and the world will be safer as we stand together. And I know this is a belief that all three share,” he said.

“The purpose of our trilateral security cooperation is and will remain to promote and enhance peace and stability throughout the region,” the leaders said in a statement.

President Biden said the summit “was not about China” but was focused on broader security issues. However, the leaders’ concluding statement did note the PRC’s “dangerous and aggressive” actions in the South China Sea, and said they “strongly oppose any unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the waters of the Indo-Pacific.”

Yoon noted in particular the threat posed by North Korea, saying the three leaders agreed to improve “our joint response capabilities to North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats, which have become sophisticated more than ever.”

Kishida said before the talks that “the fact that we, the three leaders, have got together in this way, I believe means that we are indeed making a new history as of today. The international community is at a turning point in history.”

The three nations also agreed to a new “duty to consult” security pledge committing them to speak with each other in the event of a security crisis or threat in the region.

The pledge is intended to acknowledge that the nations share “fundamentally interlinked security environments” and that a threat to one is “a threat to all,” according to a senior U.S. official.

The summit also sought to further tighten security and economic cooperation between the two U.S. allies.

Kishida and Yoon are concerned by the stepped-up cadence of North Korea’s ballistic missile tests and Chinese military exercises near Taiwan, the self-governed island that is claimed by Beijing as part of its territory.

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