US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will discuss deterrence in the Asia-Pacific region and a "united" Western alliance against Russian threats to Ukraine in a virtual meeting Friday, officials said.
Biden has made restoring the importance of the US-Japanese relationship a priority since taking office exactly a year ago, following Donald Trump's questioning of the benefit of US relationships with several major allies in both Asia and Europe, AFP reported.
Biden and Kishida will discuss economic ties but also security and the "free and open Indo-Pacific," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said, referring to the US-led drive to maintain the status quo in the Asia-Pacific region, despite rapidly expanding Chinese military and commercial power, including along crucial sea trade routes.
According to a senior US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, Biden considers US-Japanese ties "the cornerstone of peace and security in the Indo-Pacific and around the world."
In addition to discussing climate change, Covid-19, and cybersecurity, Biden and Kishida will focus on maintaining "a strong rules based order" -- language that typically means pushing back on China.
Another security challenge at the top of the two leaders' agenda is North Korea, which has conducted a busy schedule of missile test launches this year -- in contravention of UN sanctions -- and on Thursday suggested it could even resume nuclear and inter-continental missile tests.
The official noted Biden's focus on multilateral alliances, in contrast to Trump's attempt to rebrand US foreign policy as a series of bilateral relationships with countries that he considered as much competitors as allies.
The US official highlighted the roles of the Quad group -- Australia, India, Japan and the United States -- and the trilateral security relationship between the United States, Japan and South Korea, which he credited for "bolstering deterrence in the Indo-Pacific."
Underlining soaring tensions around Russia's build-up of a large military force on Ukraine's border, the US official said Biden and Kishida would "discuss a strong, united response that would result from further Russian aggression towards Ukraine."
Washington is seeking support from European and other allies for "severe" economic sanctions against Moscow if troops do attack Ukraine.
Biden hosted then-Japanese prime minister Yoshihide Suga as his first foreign leader at the White House, and after Kishida took office, Biden was the first foreign leader to place a call.