Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke separately today with the foreign ministers of South Korea and Japan, emphasizing the importance of “continuing trilateral cooperation” ahead of his upcoming visit to Beijing.
US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller stated that Blinken reiterated the US’s unwavering commitment to South Korea’s defense during his conversation with South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin.
According to Miller, “The secretary of state and the (South Korean) foreign minister condemned North Korea’s ongoing illegal ballistic missile launches and emphasized the need for China to leverage its influence to encourage serious and sustained diplomacy from Pyongyang.”
Blinken also reaffirmed the US’s strong commitment to Japan’s defense and condemned North Korea’s continued illegal firing of ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan during his discussion with Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi.
On the 15th, the United States, Japan, and South Korea jointly issued a statement condemning North Korea for its launch of two short-range ballistic missiles. This statement comes in response to Pyongyang’s threat of an “imperative” response to the ongoing US-South Korea joint military exercises.
The tripartite statement signifies a growing thaw in relations between Japan and South Korea, an important diplomatic objective of the Biden administration amidst regional tensions and increasing Chinese influence.
Blinken’s visit to China, originally scheduled earlier this year but postponed due to a Chinese reconnaissance balloon incident, will take place from the 18th to the 19th. This visit marks his first as Secretary of State and the first by a senior American diplomat in nearly five years.
President Biden expressed his hope to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping “in the coming months” to address “our legitimate differences and explore ways to foster a cooperative relationship.”