Administration

Biden: Summit deals with South Korea, Japan guard against Trump’s ‘America First’ policy

President Biden on Friday said the commitments made with South Korea and Japan during the Camp David Summit are meant to guard against political whiplash in Washington, D.C., and will push back on former President Trump’s “America First” policy.

“There’s not much, if anything, I agree on with my predecessor, on foreign policy,” Biden said. “His ‘America First’ policy of walking away from the rest of the world has made us weaker, not stronger.”

The president was responding to a question on how confident countries in Asia should be about a robust American commitment to its nuclear umbrella in the region, given that Trump demanded South Korea and Japan increase the funds they spent on hosting American troops or risk the U.S. bringing forces home. 

Trump also pulled the U.S. out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an Obama-era trade agreement with 12 nations in the region. 

Biden said it would be difficult to unravel agreements and commitments reached between Washington, Seoul and Tokyo at Camp David on Friday, and that will link the three countries together in a deeper and more durable way.  

“What makes today different is it actually launches a series of initiatives that are actually institutional changes in how we deal with one another,” the president said.  

“Security cooperation, economic cooperation, technology cooperation, development cooperation, consultation exercises, and all of this will create… momentum, I believe, year-by-year, month-by-month, to make the relationship stronger and more certain to remain, to be in place,” he continued. “On these results, I think you’re going to keep it going and I think we’re going to benefit all our countries.”

Biden has focused on forging stronger ties between the U.S., South Korea and Japan as a powerful bulwark against threats from North Korea and to push back on military and economic threats posed by the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

The PRC was not named specifically in joint statements and documents released at the conclusion of the historic summit on Friday, but was clearly present in much of the principles discussed between Biden, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

The principles spoke out against “unilateral” actions of force or coercion; that peace and security across the Taiwan Strait is “indispensable” and that the three countries are “unflinching” in a commitment to sovereignty and territorial integrity as laid out in the United Nations charter. 

Kishida also responded to a question about whether the deepening ties with the U.S. and South Korea will provoke China to an economic cold war with Japan, saying that there was “positive momentum” following a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the APEC summit in November. 

“By maintaining the positive momentum, what has to be asserted, will be asserted and we shall strongly request responsible conduct and we will continue and accumulate the conversation about multiple issues,” Kishida said.

“We will cooperate with regard to common challenges, such constructive and stable relationship will be established by mutual effort,” he added. “That is my administration is consistent policy.”

Tags Biden administration Camp David Summit Donald Trump Fumio Kishida Japan Joe Biden South Korea Xi Jinping Yoon Suk Yeol

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