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Eyes on summit diplomacy between President Moon, U.S. President-elect Biden
Updated: 2021-01-21 04:02:17 KST
In his decades-long political career, U.S. President-elect Joe Biden has engaged with a string of South Korean presidents.
When he came to South Korea in 2001 as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Biden met with then-President Kim Dae-jung and later with presidents Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye when he was vice president during the Barack Obama administration.
Attention is on what summit diplomacy will be like with President Moon Jae-in given the standing issues they'll have to deal with.

The values or policy stances of the Biden administration are similar to those of the South Korean government. Because of this, I have hope that the South Korea-U.S. alliance will be able to make significant advancements.

For starters, President Moon is seeking to get his peace initiative on the Korean Peninsula back on track.
He expressed hope that the new U.S. administration will give fresh momentum to reviving dialogue with North Korea.
The clock is ticking because Moon has only sixteen months left in office which casts a cloud over the prospect of any significant progress.
Biden is expected to pursue a more cautious and systematic approach than President Donald Trump and opt for a so-called bottom-up strategy that is, before any personal diplomacy, there would have to be a specific roadmap for denuclearization at the working-level.

"On the condition that he would agree that he would be drawing down his nuclear capacity. The Korean Peninsula should be a nuclear free zone."

On security issues the U.S. may demand stronger trilateral cooperation with South Korea and Japan which could be somewhat difficult politically for Seoul and Tokyo, whose ties are strained.
But South Korea is expected to have some leeway with the U.S. on defense cost-sharing negotiations with Biden having stressed that he will repair ties with Washington's allies and not "extort" them which he reaffirmed in a phone call with Moon after the election.

"President-elect Joe Biden called South Korea a linchpin of security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region and vowed to firmly maintain America's defense pledges regarding South Korea."

Using the stronger alliance, there are concerns Washington could push South Korea for a regional military alliance amid the ongoing geopolitical conflict between the U.S. and China.
That would put Seoul in a sticky position because Beijing South Korea's biggest trading partner could use its economic influence to sway Seoul's loyalty away from Washington.
But on issues such as going carbon neutral, tackling climate change and responding to COVID-19, President Moon is expected to get backing from the Biden administration because they share common goals.

President Moon says he will seek an early summit with Biden to build trust and to reaffirm that the allies are on the same page in regards to the Korean Peninsula peace process and to expand cooperation in other areas of mutual interest. Kim Min-ji, Arirang News.
Reporter : kimmj@arirang.com