US President Joe Biden commended the fresh security collaboration with Japan and South Korea during his hosting of the leaders of these Asian nations in trilateral discussions at Camp David on Friday.
Biden praised the “political courage” of South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in turning the page on historical animosity.
“Our countries are stronger — and the world will be safer — as we stand together. I know that’s a belief that we all three share,” he told them as he opened the talks at the presidential retreat in the mountains west of Washington.
Biden said the three would pursue “this new era of cooperation and renew our resolve to serve as a force of good across the Indo-Pacific and, quite frankly, around the world.”
Japan and South Korea have had historically strained relations dating back to Japan’s 1910-1945 occupation of Korea.
The three nations have agreed to a new security pledge committing them to consult with each other in the event of a security crisis or threat in the Pacific.
Under the pledge, the three allies agree to share information and align their messaging with each other.
The agreement is one of several joint efforts that the leaders were expected to announce at the daylong summit.
Ahead of the talks, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said the three leaders would also agree to a multi-year plan of regular exercises in all domains, going beyond one-off drills in response to North Korea.
The leaders will also agree to share real-time data on Pyongyang’s military and nuclear ambitions and to hold summits every year, US officials said.
The security pledge comes amid China’s recent assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region, particularly Beijing’s vow to retake the autonomous island of Taiwan by force, if necessary.
US attempts to bolster security ties with regional allies have ruffled feathers in Beijing.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said on Friday that no country should “seek its own security at the expense of the security interests of others and of regional peace and stability.”
Other regional security concerns discussed
One of several of regional security challenges that was expected to come into focus during the Camp David talks is North Korea.
Last month, Russia and China attended a military parade in Pyongyang, marking the 70th anniversary of the end of the Korean War.
Nuclear-capable missiles and new attack drones were among the weapons on display, according to state media.
In the past, Moscow and Beijing have distanced themselves from North Korea’s sanctions-defying military activities, however, both governments sent senior officials to survey the equipment on display.
More immediately, South Korean intelligence believes Pyongyang is preparing to launch an intercontinental ballistic missile to coincide with the three-way talks.
Missiles fired by North Korea frequently crash into the East Sea, also known as the Sea of Japan.
Meanwhile, on Friday Japan’s military said it had scrambled fighter jets after Russian patrol aircraft were detected off the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea.
In a short statement, Japan’s Joint Staff said that two planes had flown along the coast between the country’s central and southern regions before passing through the Tsushima Strait and that fighter jets “were scrambled in response.”