Biden Hosts Moon as North Korea, Chip Shortage Top Agenda

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U.S. President Joe Biden and South Korean President Moon Jae-in hailed their nations’ alliance on Friday, agreeing during a White House summit to work together on Covid-19 vaccines and semiconductors.

Biden, speaking to reporters following the meeting, said the leaders had a good discussion but didn’t specify any outcomes on issues topping the agenda, including climate change and North Korea’s nuclear program.

Moon is the second world leader to visit Biden at the White House, and is eager to revive nuclear talks with Pyongyang that stalled after a series of failed summits between former U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Prospects for a breakthrough deal have faded, with North Korea largely cutting off contact with the U.S. and Moon. Biden’s team has narrowed its focus to more tangible agreements designed to boost regional security.

Still, a senior U.S. official said North Korea would be on Friday’s agenda, and that Biden would solicit advice from Moon on how to approach efforts to denuclearize the Korean peninsula. The official briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity.

In addition to North Korea, the U.S. is hoping the meeting can highlight other joint efforts between the two countries -- particularly related to technology and trade.

Biden Hosts Moon as North Korea, Chip Shortage Top Agenda

Biden is seeking help from South Korea’s advanced semiconductor industry for chips as Washington seeks to secure supply chains in its trade battles with China. Earlier Friday, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and Moon announced an agreement to deepen cooperation in a range of industries including pharmaceutical companies making Covid-19 vaccines, electric-vehicle batteries and semiconductor producers.

“The importance of this bilateral relationship for both nations cannot be overstated,” Raimondo said. “As we recover from the pandemic, our countries will benefit from deepening that collaboration, particularly in sectors that are critical to the future of our economies.”

Biden and Moon are also looking to build on discussions U.S. climate envoy John Kerry held during an April visit to Seoul. The two countries are working to decarbonize power and transportation sectors, the U.S. official said.

Earlier Friday, Moon attended the Medal of Honor ceremony for Korean War veteran Ralph Puckett, Jr., becoming the first foreign head of state to participate in the awarding of the highest decoration for U.S. service members.

Later Friday, the two leaders are also expected to participate in a joint press conference.

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