Presidents Joseph R. Biden Jr. of the United States (US) and Yoon Suk Yeol of the Republic of Korea (ROK) met in Washington to mark the 70th anniversary of the US-ROK Alliance on the 26th of April, 2023. The summit marked the fifth meeting (and second summit) that was held between US President Biden and South Korean President Yoon, and it is the second state visit that Biden has hosted.
Yoon’s trip to Washington consisted of a speech to a joint session of Congress, a visit to NASA’s Goddard Space Center, a forum with US and South Korean businesses that was hosted by the US Chamber of Commerce, and a White House state dinner at which Yoon sang a few lines from Don McLean’s 1971 hit “American Pie.”
While the two countries are inextricably linked by their deep and unwavering security cooperation, which is reinforced by the Presidents’ commitments in the Washington Declaration in order to develop ever-stronger mutual defence and deterrence, the alliance’s greatest success is that it is clear and expanding dedication to achieving a safer and more prosperous future for the American and Korean people.
Since Yoon took office last year, the alliance has thrived. The Biden administration was overjoyed that South Korea’s president attended the 2022 NATO summit, underscoring America’s unity with its European friends. Biden referred to the US-ROK partnership as the “linchpin of regional security and prosperity” during the joint press conference with Yoon.
During the next 70 years of the alliance, the US and South Korea have committed to strengthening their comprehensive global cooperation, improving their robust regional engagement, and widening their ironclad bilateral ties in order to face the 21st century’s most complex challenges head-on.
Secure Democracy in an International Order Based on Rules
Throughout the visit, key themes included freedom, human rights, democracy, and support for a rules-based international order. Yoon repeatedly referenced memories of the Korean War and South Korea’s subsequent stratospheric economic rise in his presentation to Congress to underline that the US-South Korea partnership is well-positioned to be a keystone in defending global democracy and prosperity in the future.
The two presidents agreed on the significance of maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific that is integrated, prosperous, stable, safe, and resilient, and they pledged to strengthen regional cooperation. In this context, President Biden praised the Republic of Korea’s first Indo-Pacific Strategy as evidence of their shared regional commitment. The two presidents agreed that their respective Indo-Pacific plans would be implemented in collaboration, and they emphasized the importance of Indo-Pacific voices in global forums, particularly in tackling climate change, sustainable energy accessibility, and food security.
Emerging Technologies and Economic Security Coordination
Presidents Biden and Yoon reaffirmed the importance of making bold investments to establish sustainable energy economies and mutually beneficial supply chain ecosystems for their vital technologies. In this regard, the two presidents praised the ROK and the US for recent efforts to alleviate Korean businesses’ concerns about the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and the CHIPS and Science Act.
In addition to traditional defense concerns, the alliance’s future—one fueled by batteries, semiconductors, and developing technology—was on full display. During Yoon’s three days in Washington, there was a lot of talk about economic security, science and technology, cybersecurity, space, and climate change.