U.S. President Joe Biden arrived in South Korea yesterday, where he will spend the weekend meeting with the country’s new president, Yoon Suk Yeo, and visiting U.S troops based there. Biden then heads to Japan on Sunday for a three-day stop that will culminate in the second in-person leaders’ summit of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad, comprising the U.S., Japan, Australia and India.
As a candidate, Biden had expressed his intention of shoring up ties with U.S. allies in Europe and Asia, which suffered during Donald Trump’s presidency, should he be elected. Upon taking office, he followed through almost immediately with regard to Europe, making a high-profile trip in June 2021 to the continent for summits with the leaders of the G-7 countries, NATO and the European Union, as well as a bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
But the current trip is Biden’s first as president to Asia, a 16-month lag that is both understandable and curious. Understandable, because events in Europe have for obvious reasons jumped to the top of Biden’s to-do list since the start of the crisis over Ukraine late last year. Moreover, leadership changes in both Japan and South Korea complicated the timing of a visit. And Biden did meet with several leaders from the region, both virtually and in person in Washington, in the past year and a half.