|South Korean President Moon Jae-in speaks during a ministerial meeting at Cheong Wa Dae on April 15. Yonhap|
South Korean President Moon Jae-in will visit Washington next month for his first in-person summit with U.S. President Joe Biden, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Thursday.
"President Biden looks forward to welcoming President Moon of the Republic of Korea to the White House in the second half of May," Psaki said in a daily press briefing, referring to South Korea by its official name.
The spokeswoman said the summit will highlight the "iron-clad" U.S.-South Korea alliance, as it follows a recent visit by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to Seoul.
"We are still finalizing the date for that, but this visit, following the recent two-plus-two visit to Seoul by secretaries Blinken and Austin, and the national security advisers' trilateral meeting in Annapolis, will highlight the iron-clad U.S.-South Korea alliance and the longstanding ties and friendships between the people of our two countries," she said.
National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan hosted his South Korea and Japanese counterparts in Maryland earlier this month for three-way discussions on a wide range of issues, including how best to approach North Korea.
The Moon-Biden summit will follow the U.S.-Japan summit, set to be held here Friday.
Psaki noted the denuclearization of North Korea will be an important topic for both of the summit meetings.
|U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on Russia at the White House in Washington, D.C., on April 15, 2021. AFP-Yonhap|
"I will say that, of course, our approach to China, and our shared coordination and cooperation on that front will be part of the discussion, as will our joint commitment to the denuclearization of North Korea," she said.
She added an "important part of our objective is to take our approach and approach the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in close coordination with our partners and allies in the region and certainly South Korea and Japan are two of our important partners in the region."
When asked about her choice of the term, the denuclearization of North Korea, as opposed to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, Psaki pointed to "concerns" over the intention of the North Korean leadership.
"I would say that it's just an indication that ... I mean I wouldn't overthink this to be honest, but because we sometimes say one, we sometimes say the other. But we understand the intentions of the North Korean leadership are ones that we have concerns about, and that certainly is a factor," she said.
Some North Korea watchers have argued the Biden administration is increasingly using the term, denuclearization of North Korea, over denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula since the latter may be used by Pyongyang as a pretext for arms reduction talks.
When asked earlier to confirm, the U.S. Department of Defense said the terms represent a "distinction without a difference." (Yonhap)