Biden tells Moon Korea is a 'linchpin'
U.S. President-elect Joe Biden vowed to maintain his country’s commitment to defend Korea in his first phone conversation with President Moon Jae-in, the Blue House said Thursday.
On the phone call, Biden called Korea a “linchpin” for the security and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region, said Blue House spokesman Kang Min-seok. The two leaders talked for 14 minutes starting at 9 a.m., according to Kang.
The term “linchpin” to describe Korea is a throwback to the Barack Obama administration, in which Biden served as vice president.
When Obama met with President Lee Myung-bak in June 2010 on the sidelines of a G-20 summit, he called the Korea-U.S. alliance “the lynchpin of not only security for the Republic of Korea and the United States but also for the Pacific as a whole.”
During the Donald Trump administration, the term was scarcely used to describe the alliance.
A statement from Biden’s transition team said the U.S. president-elect will work with Moon to bolster the alliance. Biden expressed “his desire to strengthen the U.S.-ROK alliance as the linchpin of security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region” during their phone talk, according to the statement. ROK stands for South Korea’s formal name, the Republic of Korea.
The term “Indo-Pacific region” was originally introduced in 2017 by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and later adopted by the Trump administration to counter growing challenges from China’s rise.
The Moon administration has been reticent to adopt the Trump administration’s “free and open Indo-Pacific” vision.
Earlier Thursday, Biden had phone conversations with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. In both, Biden said he will work with the allies to maintain a secure and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.
According to the Blue House and Biden’s team, the two leaders agreed to work closely on other issues, including climate change. They also discussed the “shared values that underpin the U.S.-ROK alliance as well as their mutual interest in strengthening democracy,” a statement from Biden’s team said.
Both the Blue House and the U.S. presidential transition team said Biden praised Moon’s leadership in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic and stimulate economic recovery.
According to the Blue House, the two leaders agreed to meet at an early date after Biden takes office. Shortly after their phone call, Moon posted a Twitter message. “We reaffirmed our firm commitment to a robust ROK-US alliance and peaceful and prosperous Korean Peninsula,” Moon wrote in the English-language message. “Going forward, I will work closely with him to meet global challenges including COVID19 and climate change.”
The phone conversation followed Biden’s visit to a Korean War veterans’ memorial on Wednesday. Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, visited the memorial in his home state of Pennsylvania as the country observed Veterans Day. It was Biden’s first official event since his election victory.
"Biden, holding the hand of his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, and accompanied by the Mayor of Philadelphia, Jim Kenney, arrived at the black marble memorial that stands in a square. U.S. and Korean flags flew overhead," a pool report said.
During the 15-minute visit, Biden laid three wreaths at the memorial, according to the report.
Over 36,000 American soldiers were killed during the 1950-53 Korean War and more than 90,000 others injured.
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