Biden to discuss North Korea nuclear threat with Japan, South Korea leaders

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President Joe Biden will meet Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan and South Korean President Yoon Suk-Yeol during an upcoming trip to Asia to discuss how to stem North Korea’s nuclear program, a White House official said on Wednesday.

The leaders will meet in Cambodia on Sunday, Nov. 13, when Biden visits Asia for meetings with ASEAN and the Group of 20 industrialized nations.

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“The three leaders would work to “continue enhancing trilateral cooperation throughout the Indo-Pacific, particularly in regard to our joint efforts to address the ongoing threat posed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s unlawful weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs,” Adrienne Watson, spokesperson for the White House National Security Council, said using North Korea’s official name.

In October, North Korea test-fired a ballistic missile farther than ever before, sending it soaring over Japan for the first time in five years and prompting a warning for residents there to take cover.

People watch a TV broadcasting a news report on North Korea firing a ballistic missile off its east coast, in Seoul, South Korea, November 3, 2022.
People watch a TV broadcasting a news report on North Korea firing a ballistic missile off its east coast, in Seoul, South Korea, November 3, 2022.

It prompted Biden to call Kishida and reiterate America’s “ironclad” commitment to the defense of Japan.

South Korean and US warplanes also practiced bombing a target in the Yellow Sea in response and fighter jets from the United States and Japan carried out joint drills over the Sea of Japan.

Last week, a US official told Reuters that China and Russia have leverage they can use to persuade North Korea not to resume nuclear bomb testing.

The official said while the United States had been saying since May that North Korea was preparing to resume nuclear testing for the first time since 2017, it was not clear when it might conduct such a test.

In May, when Biden last visited Asia, administration officials said they were in the final stages of a review of its policy towards North Korea and was keen to encourage greater trilateral cooperation with Seoul and Tokyo on that issue.

North Korea has long been banned from conducting nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches by the UN Security Council, which strengthened sanctions on Pyongyang over the years to try and cut off funding for those programs.

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Analysis: Sanctions fail to halt North Korea’s accelerating weapons programs

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