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Biden insists on economic and security goals as he concludes visit to Korea

SEUL – President Joe Biden was inclined to both business interests and security on Sunday as he completed his three-day trip to South Korea, first demonstrating Hyundai’s promise to invest at least $ 10 billion in the United States and later joining forces. at a nearby military base.

Biden’s visit to Osan Air Force Base, where thousands of U.S. and South Korean troops are watching the rapidly growing North Korean nuclear threat, was his last stop before arriving in Tokyo later Sunday.

“You are on the front line, right here in this room,” the president said at a command center with maps of the Korean Peninsula projected onto wall screens.

It was a day that brought together two key messages Biden was trying to project during his first trip to Asia as president.

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In a time of high inflation and raging discontent at home, Biden emphasized his global mission to strengthen the US economy by persuading foreign companies such as Hyundai to launch new operations in the United States. And he wanted to show solidarity with nerve-wracking Asian allies living in the shadow of North Korea’s nuclear weapons, and he became skeptical of US security commitments while President Donald Trump was in power.

Earlier on Sunday, Biden dismissed questions about any possible provocation by North Korea, such as testing a nuclear weapon or a ballistic missile during his trip, saying: “We are ready for everything North Korea has done.”

Asked if there was a message for the country’s leader Kim Jong Un, Biden offered a sharp answer: “Hello. Period.”

This was another sharp departure from Trump, who once said he “fell in love” with Kim.

Biden’s first appearance of the day was with Hyundai Chairman Yusun Chung to highlight the company’s expanded investment in the United States, including $ 5.5 billion for an electric vehicle and battery factory in Georgia.

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“Electric vehicles are good for our climate, but they are also good for jobs,” Biden said. “And they’re good for business.”

Chung also said his company would spend another $ 5 billion on artificial intelligence on autonomous vehicles and other technologies.

The large US investment by a South Korean company was a reflection of how the two countries are using their long-standing military ties in a broader economic partnership.

Earlier in the day, Biden toured a computer chip factory run by Samsung, the Korean electronics giant, which plans to build a $ 17 billion production facility in Texas.

Biden has made greater economic co-operation with South Korea a priority, saying on Saturday that “this will bring our two countries even closer, work even closer together than we already do, and help strengthen our supply chains will secure them against shocks and give our economies a competitive advantage. “

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Russia’s pandemic and invasion of Ukraine in February forced a deeper rethinking of national security and economic alliances. Coronavirus epidemics have led to a shortage of computer chips, cars and other goods, which the Biden administration says could eventually be remedied through more domestic production and trusted allies.

Hyundai’s Georgia plant is expected to employ 8,100 workers and produce up to 300,000 vehicles a year, with construction scheduled to begin early next year and production to begin in 2025 near the unincorporated city of Elabel.

But Hyundai’s plant shows that there are trade-offs as Biden follows his economic agenda.

The president tried to link the production of electric vehicles with carmakers with a unified workforce, and during his trip he called on Korean companies to hire union labor for their operations in the United States.

However, there is no guarantee that the workers of the Hyundai Georgia plant will be united in unions.

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Georgia is a country with a “right to work”, which means that workers may not be required to join a union or make payments to a union as a condition of employment.

A Hyundai spokesman did not respond to an email asking if the Georgia plant would be merged. A senior Biden administration official, who briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity, said there was no controversy between Biden, who encouraged investors to accept the union’s workforce as his administration did “what it could” to encourage investment and jobs. in USA

Biden handed over a visit to the demilitarized zone on the northern and southern borders, a regular stop for US presidents during a visit to Seoul. Biden had visited DMZ as vice president and was more interested in seeing Osan Air Base, said White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.

While at the base, Biden talked to the soldiers and their families in the bowling alley and indulged in his passion for ice cream twice. First chocolate chips, then vanilla and chocolate.

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Biden and Korean President Yun Suk Yel announced on Saturday that they would consider expanded joint military exercises to deter the nuclear threat from North Korea.

The pressure to restrain Biden and Yun, who is less than two weeks in office, has changed with leaders from their predecessors. Trump considered canceling the exercises and expressed affection for North Korean Kim. And South Korea’s last president, Moon Jae-in, remained committed to dialogue with Kim until the end of his term, despite being repeatedly rejected by the North.

Yun ran a campaign promising to strengthen US-South Korean relations. He reiterated at a dinner in Biden’s dinner on Saturday that his goal was to move the issue of “beyond security” relations with North Korea, which has long dominated relations.

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“I will try to create a new future vision for our alliances with you, Mr. President,” Yun said.

During the Japanese phase of Biden’s trip, he will meet with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Monday to outline his vision for negotiating a new trade agreement, the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework.

A central theme of the trip is the tightening of US alliances in the Pacific to counter China’s influence in the region.

But there is a debate within the administration over whether to remove some of the $ 360 billion in tariffs on China from the Trump era. U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen recently said some tariffs are doing more harm to American business and consumers than to China.

On Tuesday, Japan hosted Biden’s summit on the Quad, a four-nation strategic alliance that also includes Australia and India. The US president will then return to Washington.

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Associated Press writers Chris Megherian and Darlene Superville of Washington contributed to this report.

Copyright 2022 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

Biden insists on economic and security goals as he concludes visit to Korea

Source link Biden insists on economic and security goals as he concludes visit to Korea

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