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Biden, Kishida Hold High-Profile Summit On Stronger Alliance

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Biden, Kishida Hold High-Profile Summit On Stronger Alliance

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US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida began a summit in Washington on Wednesday with a shared aim to cement the two countries’ evolving alliance in the midst of China’s assertiveness, Russia’s war in Ukraine and North Korea’s persistent threats.

The high-profile summit came as the Biden administration seeks to leverage its alliance network to confront global challenges and highlight its steady security commitment to the Indo-Pacific despite the ongoing wars in Ukraine and the Middle East.

Biden and Kishida will produce over 70 “deliverables” or agreements, including on the modernization of the force structure, the launch of a military industrial council on weapons co-production, lunar exploration and technological research partnerships, according to a senior US official.

The high-profile meeting is expected to underscore Japan’s pursuit of a greater security role and America’s backing for it as Tokyo decided to double its defense spending to 2 percent of gross domestic product, adopted “counter-strike” capabilities, relaxed arms export curbs and bolstered security cooperation with South Korea.

The agenda for the summit includes North Korea’s threats, according to a White House official, as the recalcitrant regime’s security challenge has come sharply into focus due to its continued weapons tests and burgeoning military cooperation with Russia.

At a ceremony welcoming the arrival of Kishida at the White House, Biden celebrated what he called the “unbreakable” and “global” alliance between the United States and Japan, while touting Tokyo’s efforts to reinforce its own defense capabilities and the alliance, as well as its support for Ukraine.

“The alliance between Japan and the US is a cornerstone of peace, security, prosperity in the Indo-Pacific and around the world,” Biden said, calling Kishida a “visionary and courageous” leader. “Ours is truly a global partnership. For that, Mr. Prime Minister Kishida, I thank you.”

Biden also took note of the improvement in relations between Seoul and Tokyo, which has led to a strengthening of America’s trilateral cooperation with the Asian allies highlighted by the three countries’ standalone summit at Camp David in August.

“Last year, the prime minister took one of the boldest steps yet when he and President Yoon (Suk Yeol) of the Republic of Korea decided to heal all wounds and start a new chapter of friendship,” he said.

“Our historic summit that I hosted at Camp David marked the start of an entirely new era infused with hope, shared values and focus relentlessly forward because these leaders know that the divisions that defined us in the past do not need to define us in the future,” he said.

Kishida underscored his commitment to furthering the alliance.

“Today, the world faces more challenges and difficulties than ever before. As a global partner, Japan will join hands with our American friends,” he said.

“Together, we will lead the way in tackling the challenges of the Indo-Pacific region and the world while tirelessly developing the relationship between our countries with a view to the world 10 and even 100 years from now,” he added.

Kishida arrived in the US on Monday for an official visit — equivalent to a state visit, a technical term for a head of state rather than a premier — in an invitation that capped state visits by leaders of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad that consists of the US, Australia, India and Japan.

His trip marks the first official visit by a Japanese leader since then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2015.

“It should not be lost on you that this is our fifth state visit and state dinner (during Biden’s presidency). But four of the five — this is the crowning partnership of the Quad,” the official said.

On Thursday, Kishida is set to deliver a speech to a joint meeting of Congress and attend the first-ever trilateral summit with Biden and Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. (PNA)