President Biden and the leaders of Japan and South Korea on Sunday vowed a unified, coordinated response to North Korea's threatening nuclear and ballistic missile programs, with Biden declaring that the three-way partnership is "even more important than it's ever been" when North Korea is stepping up its provocations. Biden met separately with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol before all three sat down together on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in Cambodia, the AP reports. Biden began by offering condolences for a crowd surge during Halloween festivities in Seoul that killed more than 150 people, saying the US had grieved with South Korea. The meeting was focused on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's recent escalations, though Biden said the three leaders would also discuss strengthening supply chains and preserving peace across the Taiwan strait, while building on the countries' support for Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression.
Biden had also planned to seek input from Kishida and Yoon on managing China's assertive posture in the Pacific region on the eve of his face-to-face session Monday with President Xi Jinping. "We face real challenges, but our countries are more aligned than ever, more prepared to take on those challenges than ever," the president said. Yoon and Kishida discussed the ongoing displays of aggression by North Korea, which has fired dozens of missiles in recent weeks. The launches include an intercontinental ballistic missile 10 days ago that triggered evacuation alerts in northern Japan, as the allies warn of a looming risk of the isolated country conducting its seventh nuclear test in the coming weeks.
Biden has said he plans to press Xi to use China's sway over North Korea to curtail its aggressive behavior, as part of what is expected to be a wide-ranging meeting on the margins of the Group of 20 gathering in Bali, Indonesia. He told reporters on Sunday that he's "always had straightforward discussions" with Xi, saying that has prevented either of them from "miscalculations." Their meeting comes weeks after Xi cemented his grip on China’s political system with his election to a norm-breaking third term as Communist Party leader. "His circumstances changed, to state the obvious, at home," Biden said of Xi. But the president maintained that his own have as well, saying that after Democrats retained control of the Senate in the midterm elections, "I know I'm coming in stronger."
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