President Joe Biden touched down in Phnom Penh on Saturday for the second leg of his international trip, with mounting missile launches from North Korea and Russia’s war in Ukraine providing a tense backdrop for collusion.
Biden is here for ASEAN’s annual summit of Southeast Asian nations, but war in Europe and a nuclear threat to key allies and the US mainland loom.
In a display of the threat, Biden has plans to meet with two key partners, South Korea and Japan, following a series of provocative North Korean ballistic missile tests.
Experts have raised concerns about the Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile that North Korea fired on November 2. A larger missile could reach the US mainland with multiple warheads.
President Joe Biden kicks off two days of meetings with world leaders at ASEAN summit in Cambodia
US officials do not rule out what would be North Korea’s seventh nuclear test. Dictator Kim Jong-un has a history of using high-profile events to gain attention and gain influence through displays of military prowess.
National Security Council adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters en route to Cambodia that the leaders would specifically discuss “threats posed by North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.”
That would happen both in bilateral meetings and in a three-way discussion.
Sullivan has specifically pointed to the possibility of North Korea carrying out its seventh nuclear test “sometime in this broader time frame,” referring to Biden’s trip.
‘And by ‘broader’, I mean we’ve been talking about this for a couple of months. That window still remains open. Our concern remains real. If it happens in the next week or not, I can’t say,’ he specified last week.
He cited the potential for both long-range missile tests and the possibility of a nuclear test.
We are also concerned about more potential long-range missile tests on top of the possibility of a nuclear test, along with the cyber threat posed by the hermetic nation, which has been sending artillery shells to Russia in the midst of its war against Ukraine.
The president greeted US embassy staff after landing.
“We have very close coordination with both the Republic of Korea and Japan. And I believe that the trilateral meeting that the three leaders will be able to have on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit will be an important milestone in the trilateral relationship and will only help strengthen coordination on the DPRK.
The North Korean threat will also be a priority when Biden meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Bali.
Sullivan said Biden would push in China’s self-interest. “And if North Korea continues down this path, it will simply mean an increased US military and security presence in the region. And so it is in the PRC’s interest to play a constructive role in containing North Korea’s worst tendencies. Whether they choose to do so or not is, of course, up to them.
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol is received by Cambodian President Hun Sen, who is organizing the event.
As for Russia, there have been new pushes for Ukraine and Russia to negotiate, even as Russia appears to have abandoned the city of Kherson, which it seized during its February invasion.
“He will be very clear on the trip, that there will be strong, enduring, unwavering, unwavering support for Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression,” Sullivan said.
The persistent challenge posed by China is also a common challenge for US allies. Like South Korea and Japan, US ally Australia is sending its leader,