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Japan, South Korea, U.S. Strengthen Trilateral Cooperation

The trilateral ties among Japan, the Republic of Korea and the United States will make the world safer and the three countries stronger, President Joe Biden said at the conclusion of talks at Camp David, Maryland today. 

The United States has decades of solid relations with both South Korea and Japan bilaterally – both nations are treaty allies of the United States. But forging a trilateral relationship has long proved difficult, as there have been roadblocks to relations between South Korea and Japan. 

Today's summit reaffirmed that cooperation among our three countries delivers security and prosperity for our people, the Indo-Pacific region and the world."
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III

Biden praised the political courage of South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio for their efforts to work together. He said the Republic of Korea and Japan are capable and indispensable allies, and that America's commitment to both countries is ironclad.  

"Strengthening the ties between our democracies has long been a priority for me, dating back to when I was vice president of the United States," Biden said at the start of the meeting. "That's because our countries are stronger and the world is safer … as we stand together. And I know this is a belief we all three share." 

All three leaders believe this to be an inflection point in history, Biden said. "We're called to lead in new ways to work together to stand together," he said. "And today, I'm proud to say our nations are answering that call." 

People in uniform patrol a sidewalk while simulating a bilateral search.
Exercise Keen Sword
U.S. airmen of the 18th Security Forces Squadron, and members of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, 51st Infantry Regiment, patrol a sidewalk during a simulated bilateral search while participating in Exercise Keen Sword 2023 at Camp Foster, Okinawa, Japan, Nov. 13, 2022.
Photo By: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jonathan Beauchamp
VIRIN: 221113-M-OY081-1014Y

The three nations agreed to elevate defense collaboration. This includes launching annual multidomain military exercises to bring trilateral defense cooperation to unprecedented levels, the president said.  

The nations will also speed up information sharing on North Korea's missile launches and cyber activities which will strengthen ballistic missile defense cooperation.  

"Critically, we've all committed to swiftly consult with each other in response to threats to any one of our countries from whatever source that occurs," Biden said. "That means we'll have a hotline to share information and coordinate our responses whenever there is a crisis in the region or affecting any one of our countries."  

Ten planes fly in formation above the clouds.
Aerial Exercise
South Korea and the U.S. conduct a combined aerial exercise in conjunction with the deployment of U.S. B-1B strategic bombers over the South Korea, March 19, 2023.
Photo By: Air Force 1st Lt. Cameron Silver
VIRIN: 230319-F-AP963-1002Y

The three nations reaffirmed their commitments to maintain peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and address economic coercion. Biden said. "We're going to continue to counter threats from [North Korea] including cryptocurrency money laundering to the tune of billions of dollars, and potential arms transfer in support of Russia's brutal war against Ukraine," he said. "Together, we're going to stand up for international law, freedom of navigation and a peaceful resolution of disputes in the South China Sea."  

President Yoon noted that Camp David has been the site of many historic meetings over the years. "From this moment on, Camp David, will be remembered as a historic place where the Republic of Korea, the United States and Japan, proclaimed that we will bolster the rules-based international order and play key roles to enhance regional security and prosperity based on our shared values of freedom, human rights and rule of law," he said through a translator. "The stronger coordination between Korea, the U.S. and Japan requires more robust institutional foundations. Moreover, challenges that threaten regional security must be addressed by us building a stronger commitment to working together." 

Kishida said the international community is at a turning point in history. "In order to allow the potential of our trilateral strategic collaboration to bloom and to blossom, I wish to take this moment to raise the security coordination between Japan, ROK and the U.S. to new heights," he said. 

In a written statement, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III called the meeting historic. "Today's summit reaffirmed that cooperation among our three countries delivers security and prosperity for our people, the Indo-Pacific region and the world," he said. "We are working more closely than ever with the ROK and Japan in support of a common vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific region."

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