Joe Biden has said the United States wants to see North Korea give up its nuclear weapons, taking a veiled swipe at Donald Trump and vowing not to pander to Kim Jong-un with ‘international recognition’.
Speaking on Friday at a press conference with Moon Jae-in, the president of South Korea, Biden said he did not rule out meeting Kim.
But, he insisted, he would not replicate the efforts of the ‘recent past.’
Trump met face-to-face with the dictator on three occasions and exchanged what he called ‘love letters’ with the leader.
‘I would not give him all that he’s looking for,’ Biden said of Kim, namely ‘international recognition.’
Moon, who had a tumultuous relationship with Trump, praised Biden for ‘restoring the soul of America’.
Joe Biden on Friday hosted the president of South Korea, Moon Jae-in, at the White House
Moon Jae-in, the president of South Korea, said that he and Biden spoke ‘like old friends’
Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, is seen in 2017 at a nuclear facility in the country
Moon is only the second world leader to visit the Biden White House, after Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.
Biden said he and Moon would work together to tackle the threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.
‘We both are deeply concerned about the situation,’ Biden said.
‘Our goal is and remains complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.’
He also announced the appointment of a State Department official, Sung Kim, as special envoy for North Korea.
Donald Trump met Kim Jong-un three times, and Biden accused him of giving Kim prestige
A rocket launch is shown from North Korea on March 21, 2020
Kim is pictured watching the launch of a missile in September 2017
Biden also announced that the U.S. would vaccinate 550,000 South Korean servicemembers who serve alongside U.S. forces on the peninsula.
This marks the first commitment by the Biden administration for what it plans to do with the 80 million vaccine doses it aims to distribute globally in the next six weeks.
Biden has said he hopes to use domestically produced vaccines as a modern-day ‘arsenal of democracy,’ a reference to the U.S. effort to arm allies in World War II.
At the same time, the White House has pledged not to attach policy conditions to countries receiving the doses as global vaccine diplomacy heats up.
Moon, meanwhile, welcomed ‘America’s return’ to the world stage and said both leaders pledged in their meeting to work closely toward denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
He said afterward he and Biden spoke ‘like old friends’ and emphasized the need for cooperation on security issues in the region.
‘The most urgent common task that our two countries must undertake is achieving complete denuclearization and permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula,’ he said.
Moon started his visit by meeting Vice President Kamala Harris, where he delivered a subtle jab at Trump.
Moon met Kamala Harris, the vice president, on Friday before meeting Biden
Joe Biden welcomes Moon Jae-in at the White House on Friday
Biden’s predecessor had dismissed Moon as weak and threatened to withdraw U.S. troops from South Korea.
‘My congratulations on how the Biden-Harris administration is building back better with the world’s most successful vaccine deployment and fastest economic recovery, and blazing a trail for inclusiveness and unity by restoring the soul of America,’ he said.
Moon, who will leave office next May, is eager to resume stalled talks between Washington and Pyongyang, and between Seoul and Pyongyang.
But the Biden administration, which confirmed in March that it had made outreach efforts to the North without success, has been less enthusiastic about the idea of direct negotiations in the near term.
Biden wants Moon to take a strong stance on China’s activity toward Taiwan and other provocative moves Beijing has made in the region. Biden has sought to rally Pacific allies to coordinate on China, which Biden sees as the United States’ fiercest economic competitor.
South Korea could be reluctant to speak out about China, an important trading partner that it also sees as key in dealing with the North Korean government.
Moon told the press conference ‘there was no pressure’ on the issue from Biden in their meeting.