Yoon Suk-yeol gets on board Joe Biden's IPEF
Yoon is also expected to join a virtual summit launching the IPEF during Biden's visit to Japan next Tuesday, said Kim Tae-hyo, first deputy director of the National Security Office (NSO), in a press briefing Wednesday.
The IPEF, a comprehensive economic framework for the region proposed by the United States last October at the East Asia Summit, is expected to be launched on May 24. One of its goals is to help members decouple from the Chinese market by finding alternative supply chains. It will focus on four pillars: fair and resilient trade; supply chain resilience; clean energy, decarbonization and infrastructure; and tax and anticorruption.
This could have diplomatic implications for Korea amid the Sino-U.S. rivalry. The IPEF is meant to counter China's growing influence in the region and be a countermeasure to the Chinese-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the largest free trade agreement to date, which went into effect in Korea in February. Asean's 10 member states, Japan, China, Australia and New Zealand also signed the mega-FTA.
On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said that Biden will announce the launch of the new regional bloc during his visit to Japan.
In his first parliamentary address Monday, Yoon revealed that he plans to discuss Korea's participation in the IPEF during Biden's visit as a means to "strengthen cooperation on global supply chains."
Biden is set to make a three-day official visit to Seoul from Friday and depart for Tokyo Sunday to attend a Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad, meeting of the U.S.-led cooperative forum with Japan, India and Australia.
The Yoon-Biden summit Saturday will last 90 minutes and will be held on the fifth floor of the new presidential office in Yongsan District, central Seoul.
Biden will visit the Seoul National Cemetery in Dongjak District, hold a summit with Yoon in the Yongsan office and a joint press conference afterwards, then attend an official banquet, said Kim Tae-hyo, presidential deputy national security adviser, in the press briefing.
The summit is expected to focus on North Korea's nuclear and missile threats and economic security.
Kim stressed that Yoon has the "goal of positioning the Republic of Korea-U.S. comprehensive strategic alliance as a pivotal pillar contributing to East Asia and global peace and prosperity."
He added that the two sides are expected to push for "strategic coordination to overcome the global challenges we face together."
He said a "technological alliance" is expected to be added to this relationship in the summit.
Addressing the possibility of Pyongyang carrying out some provocation during Biden's visit, Kim said that Seoul and Washington have a Plan B ready, without elaborating further.
He said there is a "relatively low possibility" of North Korea carrying out a seventh nuclear test this weekend. But he added that an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launch is believed to be "imminent."
Kim said that the United States recently offered to send Covid-19 aid to North Korea after the country acknowledged a virus outbreak, but has so far received no response.
Biden is making his first visit to Asia since his inauguration last year, and Seoul is his first stop.
The summit with the U.S. president comes just 11 days after the launch of the Yoon administration, the quickest meeting for a Korean president with his or her U.S. counterpart.
BY SARAH KIM [email@example.com]