US President Joe Biden greets Kim Jong Un during his visit to South Korea

Posted: May 23, 2022 12:03 PM IST

Biden said Washington and its allies were “prepared for anything North Korea does,” including nuclear testing.

The leaders of the United States and South Korea are “ready for anything North Korea will do,” US President Joe Biden said on May 22, amid rumors that North Korea may be testing a another nuclear weapon after a five-year hiatus. “We discussed how we would react to whatever they did, so I’m not worried, if that’s what you’re suggesting,” Biden told a reporter during a joint press conference with the newly elected president of South Korea, Yoon Suk Yeol. The discussion also included starting “joint exercises to prepare for a nuclear attack,” Yoon said.

The message for Kim Jong Un is ‘Hello’

On the second day of Biden’s visit to South Korea, the US president also visited Osan Air Base where US and South Korean troops are monitoring potential threats from Pyongyang. When asked by a reporter if he had a message for North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, Biden said his message was “Hello. Period.” North Korea has stepped up missile testing in recent months, largely ignoring warnings from the West. The White House had previously warned that the North Korean regime could test missiles or weapons during Biden’s Asian tour as a “provocation”.

Hyundai promises to finance an electric car factory in Georgia

Biden also met with the head of South Korean automaker giant Hyundai as part of his efforts to deepen economic ties between American companies and their allies in Asia. Hyundai has pledged to invest 10 billion dollars (about 9.5 billion euros) in the United States. More than half of the funds will go to an electric car factory in the US state of Georgia.

Previously, Biden had visited a Samsung semiconductor factory which he said would serve as a model for a new Samsung factory in Texas. As the United States faces pressure from Russia and China, Biden said Asia was a key battleground in the “global competition between democracies and autocracies.” “We’ve talked at length about the need for us to expand this beyond the United States, Japan and Korea, but across the Pacific, South Pacific and Indo-Pacific. I think that this is an opportunity,” Biden said.

Biden to meet Quad leaders in Tokyo

The US president then flew to Japan, where he is due to meet Indian and Australian leaders on May 24. Washington, New Delhi, Canberra and Tokyo are members of the Quad – a security alliance widely seen as a way for Washington to check China’s growing influence. South Korean Yoon has hinted that he will work more closely with the Quad, although there are currently no plans for Seoul to join the alliance.

dj/wd (AFP, AP, Reuters)

Kevin E. Boling