Friday 20 May 2022 09:34 AM Biden lands in South Korea as White House says any North Korean tests will ... trends now

Friday 20 May 2022 09:34 AM Biden lands in South Korea as White House says any North Korean tests will ... trends now
Friday 20 May 2022 09:34 AM Biden lands in South Korea as White House says any North Korean tests will ... trends now

Friday 20 May 2022 09:34 AM Biden lands in South Korea as White House says any North Korean tests will ... trends now

President Joe Biden touched down in Korea Friday amid new fears that North Korea would try to exploit his visit by launching a ballistic missile or conducting another nuclear test. 

It is Biden's first trip to Asia as president, and comes after he has been intensely focused on domestic issues including inflation, the pandemic, and the baby formula crisis – plus Russia's war on Ukraine.

En route, White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan was asked what it would mean for Biden's visit if North Korea conducts another ballistic missile or nuclear test while the president is here.

'This could cause the United States only to increase our fortitude in terms of defending our allies and cause adjustments to the way that our military is postured in the region,' Sullivan responded.

Air Force One with U.S. President Joe Biden arrives at Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, Friday, May 20, 2022. The president will tour a Samsung factory at the start of his first trip to Asia as president

Air Force One with U.S. President Joe Biden arrives at Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, Friday, May 20, 2022. The president will tour a Samsung factory at the start of his first trip to Asia as president

'As far as the trip is concerned, I think all it would do is underscore, it would underscore one of the main messages that we are sending on this trip, which is that the United States is here for our allies and partners. We are here to help provide deterrence and defense for the ROK and Japan. We will respond to any threats and any aggression decisively,' he added. 

North Korea has already conducted 15 ballistic missile tests this year, as well as seven nuclear tests. 

South Korea’s spy agency has said North Korea has been making preparations for another test.

Sullivan warned Wednesday, before the start of the trip, that 'Our intelligence does reflect the genuine possibility that there will be either a further missile test, including long-range missile test, or a nuclear test, or frankly both in the days leading into, on or after the president’s trip to the region.'

“We are preparing for all contingencies, including the possibility that such a provocation would occur while we are in Korea or in Japan,' he added.

Whatever North Korea dictator Kim Jong-un's plans, Biden plans to keep the focus on the alliance between the two large economies, and his own ambitions to confront inflation by taking on supply chain issues.

He will visit the mammoth Samsung Electronics Pyeongtaek Campus. The company has said it will invest billions in a Texas semiconductor facility. Biden will also pitch speedy passage of the Bipartisan Innovation Act, which is meant to boost domestic manufacturing and address supply chain problems.

He will be joined by the country's new president, Yoon Suk Yeol.

Also there will be Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, who had to get a court's permission to take a break from his fraud trial that is underway.

It is certain that Russia's war on Ukraine will come up, as Biden tries to keep allies unified in aiding Ukraine and trying to confront Russia through punitive sanctions. 

Biden plans to sign the $40 billion Ukraine aid package, which passed the Senate shortly after he took off for his trip. 

The trip is Biden's first visit to Asia as commander-in-chief on Thursday amid escalating tensions in the region chiefly driven by China and North Korea. 

There are other domestic issues at play. He's leaving just days before the pandemic-era expulsion policy known as Title 42 is set to expire. The Department of Homeland Security is preparing for scenarios where agents at the southwestern border are reckoning with as many as 18,000 migrants per day. 

Meanwhile mothers and families nationwide are struggling with a baby formula shortage, as Democrats in Congress call on Biden to appoint a coordinator to deal with the crisis.

The president did not answer shouted questions from reporters on Thursday but smiled and waved in a show of confidence before his five-day trip.

Meanwhile, Biden is looking to reaffirm his administration's commitment to allies and partners in the region who fear China's increased aggression against Taiwan and in the South China Sea.  

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre also said Wednesday that Biden 'will not visit the DMZ' while in South Korea, the Korean Demilitarized Zone, which separates North and South Korea. 

Biden visited the DMZ as vice president in 2013. 

President Joe Biden left early Thursday afternoon for his first visit to Asia as commander-in-chief

President Joe Biden left early Thursday afternoon for his first visit to Asia as commander-in-chief

He'll visit South Korea and Japan in a five day-long visit until next Tuesday

He'll visit South Korea and Japan in a five day-long visit until next Tuesday

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