U.S. has no plans to invite South Korea to Quad, Psaki says

U.S. has no plans to invite South Korea to Quad, Psaki says

The United States has no plans to invite South Korea to join the Quad — a grouping that includes the U.S. Japan, India and Australia — White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Monday.

It is an incredibly important relationship. The Quad will remain the Quad, Psaki said during a press conference.

The outgoing South Korean administration of President Moon Jae-in has been cautious about joining the Quad, which is widely seen as trying to counter China's growing influence in the region and elsewhere.

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol told The Wall Street Journal last month that he does not expect Seoul to be invited to the Quad in the near future, but he said that if approached, his country will positively review joining. U.S. President Joe Biden will visit Asia later this month for the first time since taking office in 2021 for talks with allies in Japan and South Korea over China's growing influence in the region and the latest threats from nuclear-armed North Korea.

Biden will hold a meeting on May 21 with Yoon, a conservative political newcomer who was elected last month, according to the Yonhap news agency. Yoon is expecting to take a harder line in North Korea than his progressive predecessor, outgoing President Moon-Jae.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said on Thursday that Biden will hold a bilateral meeting with Kishida in Tokyo. The Quad summit is set to take place the following day, according to Matsuno.

Biden is expected to deliver an address on his administration's Indo-Pacific policy centering on China during his visit, according to Japanese and U.S. government sources.

Biden is expected to call for unity among the United States and its allies in South Korea in a speech to be given in South Korea, at a time when the international order is facing a huge challenge due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, according to sources.

The US government is considering a comprehensive strategy to deal with China ahead of Biden's trip, which continues to cooperate with Russia amid the ongoing war in Ukraine.

China is moving to expand its military influence in the Indo-Pacific region by establishing a security pact with the Solomon Islands, amongst other things.

The U.S. government is expected to take a tougher stance against Beijing, as a result of China's moves.

With North Korea accelerating its nuclear and missile development, Biden expects to call on Japan and South Korea to improve their relations, which are said to be at the worst point since the end of World War II due to wartime issues.

At the Quad summit, participants, including Kishida and Biden, are expected to discuss the strengthening of supply chains and other issues related to economic security, as well as measures to bolster the fights against COVID 19 and climate change.

Sources said that work is underway to set up a meeting between Biden and Emperor Naruhito during the U.S. leader's stay in Tokyo.