Greeted with much fanfare in 2012, the Obama administration’s so-called pivot to the Asia-Pacific region has of late been beset by doubts and distractions. Developments in the Middle East and Europe have consumed a great deal of top-level attention, and declining U.S. defense spending has raised concerns that the military aspect of the rebalance may simply not be feasible.
On top of this, the administration is working to convince two of its most important regional partners, Japan and South Korea, to move past an especially rough diplomatic patch and form a durable and consistent partnership on security and other matters. These efforts received at least a symbolic boost earlier today, when South Korean President Park Geun-hye and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed to take part in a trilateral summit with U.S. President Barack Obama next week in The Hague.
The summit will be the first face-to-face meeting between Park and Abe since they took office and will take place on the sidelines of the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit.