Biden to Meet South Korea’s Moon at White House on May 21

President Joe Biden will meet South Korean President Moon Jae-in on May 21, the White House said, with Seoul adding North Korea would be high on the agenda.

Moon is set to become the second leader of another country to visit the White House since Biden’s inauguration and the announcement comes as Biden’s administration is reviewing its policy on trying to end North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. Biden hosted Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga earlier this month and his other encounters with foreign leaders have been virtual because of coronavirus precautions.

“President Biden looks forward to working with President Moon to further strengthen our alliance and expand our close cooperation,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement Thursday night.

Chung Man-ho, Moon’s senior public communication secretary, confirmed the date in a briefing Friday in Seoul.

The two presidents, he said, plan to discuss “measures to enable close cooperation between” their nations “to facilitate complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the establishment of permanent peace.”

Among the issues on the agenda are “economy and trade, as well as other global challenges such as climate change and coronavirus,” he added.

The U.S. has been trying to improve relations with South Korea in the wake of the Trump administration, which had demanded the Seoul government pay far more to host American armed forces. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken visited the country in March.

Moon’s single, five-year term ends next year and he has been pressing the Biden administration to resume nuclear negotiations that sputtered under President Donald Trump, without producing any concrete steps to wind down leader Kim Jong Un’s arsenal.

Moon has seen his poll numbers hit record lows in recent weeks, and earlier in April, his party was handed its worst defeat in five years in mayoral elections in Seoul and Busan. It was a worrisome sign for Moon’s progressive camp, which has made rapprochement with Pyongyang a policy priority, ahead presidential elections in about 11 months. The April vote also offered encouragement for conservatives, who have traditionally backed a hard line with North Korea.

Biden plans to make his first trip abroad as president in June, and is to attend the G-7 summit in Cornwall, England and a meeting of NATO in Brussels.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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