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ASIA: President Biden Departs On First Asia Trip Today


US President Joe Biden will depart this evening on the first Asian tour of his presidency.

  • The trip will take in South Korea and Japan and include a meeting of the Quad alliance (US, Japan, Australia, and India) in Tokyo.
  • Biden will tour a Samsung Electronics semiconductor plant on arrival in South Korea on Friday. Reuters: 'Hyundai [is planning] a new electric-vehicle manufacturing plant in the United States, an announcement could coincide with Biden's visit.'
  • Biden will hold a bilateral meeting with SK President Yoon Suk-yeol despite US intelligence warning North Korea may be planning to conduct a nuclear test during Biden's visit.
  • May 22-23: Biden will meet Japanese PM Fumio Kishida and Emperor Naruhito with a joint press briefing expected.
  • May 23: Biden will deliver remarks with Kishida on the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF). Six countries are likely to sign onto the agreement: Australia, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, the Philippines, and Singapore.
  • May 24: Biden will join Kishida, Indian PM Narendra Modi, and incoming Australian PM for the second in-person Quad summit. Unofficial bilateral meetings with Indian and Australian leaders are expected during the summit.
  • China has called the tour provocative: 'Wang Yi pointed out that Japan will soon host a summit of the ‘Quadrilateral Mechanism’ [part of the] Japan-U.S. joint effort to confront China...'
  • The trip is key to restructuring US relationships in the Asia-Pacific region in accordance with the Biden administration's 'pivot to Asia'. One of the key objectives, however, will be repairing the rapidly deteriorating relationship between Seoul and Tokyo, the two key US allies in the region.
  • Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN), former US ambassador to Japan: 'I’m not overly optimistic because I’ve been watching this relationship for decades, and when things get tough from a domestic standpoint, politically it is often easy to revive these tensions as a means to unify political will within a given country.'

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