Trump Seeks to Blitz Haley in ‘Super Tuesday’ States 

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally, Aug. 8, 2023, in Windham, N.H. (AP)
Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally, Aug. 8, 2023, in Windham, N.H. (AP)
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Trump Seeks to Blitz Haley in ‘Super Tuesday’ States 

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally, Aug. 8, 2023, in Windham, N.H. (AP)
Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally, Aug. 8, 2023, in Windham, N.H. (AP)

Donald Trump looks to cement his hold on the Republican presidential nomination Tuesday as the first polls open on one of the most important days of the US electoral calendar.

"Super Tuesday" -- the primary cycle's largest single day of voting, with contests in 15 states and one territory -- is historically a defining moment in the race for the presidential nomination.

But the suspense of previous election years will largely be absent this time around, with Trump expected to continue his sweep of Republican primary states, closing the door on sole remaining challenger Nikki Haley.

"We've been sort of in a rocket, we've been launching like a rocket, to the Republican nomination," Trump told supporters at a weekend rally in Richmond, Virginia, touting his victories in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.

But he made clear that he is already looking past the primary to the autumn presidential election itself, telling the crowd: "The biggest day in the history of our country is November 5."

President Joe Biden, who trails Trump in most swing state polls for the general election, has his own primary contest on the Democratic side, but his victory is considered a formality.

Haley lost the early nominating states to Trump by wide margins, but has vowed to remain in the presidential contest at least until Super Tuesday voters have their say.

The lineup of states up for grabs includes the giant battlegrounds of California and Texas, allowing hopefuls to bag 70 percent of the delegates they need to be named the presumptive nominee.

Trump cannot mathematically close out the contest Tuesday night but expects to be anointed by March 19 at the latest, according to his campaign.

Post-Trump Republicans

Haley, 52, has been making an electability argument -- that the public has rejected Trumpism in almost every vote since 2016 and would do so again in November.

She also warns of the "chaos" surrounding a candidate who in just the last few months has been labeled an insurrectionist by a federal judge and found liable for sexual assault and business fraud running to hundreds of millions of dollars.

Trump -- who denies all wrongdoing -- also faces the threat of jail time from multiple federal and state felony charges, mostly for allegedly trying to cheat in or steal the 2016 and 2020 elections.

Trump, 77, has spent nine days in court this year alone, and complains that his prosecutions are keeping him from the campaign trail -- although many of his appearances have been voluntary, used afterward as part of his fundraising appeals.

As he makes his case for reelection in a televised address Tuesday at his south Florida beach club, Trump's lawyers will be preparing their own arguments for his March 25 New York trial for alleged 2016 campaign finance violations.

Meanwhile, the former president has been celebrating Supreme Court decisions delaying his 2020 federal election conspiracy trial in Washington -- possibly until after November -- and keeping him on the ballot in three states that wanted to exclude him as an insurrectionist.

Haley told NBC on Sunday she no longer feels bound to her Republican Party pledge to vote for Trump if he is the nominee -- sparking speculation over a potential third-party run.

Biden -- who delivers his annual State of the Union address from Congress on Thursday -- also faces division among Democrats, although he is expected to sail past challengers Dean Phillips and Marianne Williamson, both minor political figures, in his primary.

A New York Times survey published on Saturday flagged waning support among normally reliable constituencies like blue-collar workers and non-white voters.

Almost two-thirds of voters who supported the 81-year-old in 2020 say he is too old to lead the country effectively, according to the poll.



Biden Administration Closing 'Gun Show Loophole'

Customers shop for handguns at the Des Moines Fairgrounds Gun Show at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa, US March 11, 2023. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights
Customers shop for handguns at the Des Moines Fairgrounds Gun Show at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa, US March 11, 2023. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights
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Biden Administration Closing 'Gun Show Loophole'

Customers shop for handguns at the Des Moines Fairgrounds Gun Show at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa, US March 11, 2023. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights
Customers shop for handguns at the Des Moines Fairgrounds Gun Show at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa, US March 11, 2023. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights

The White House announced a crackdown on firearms sales at gun shows and over the internet that evade US federal background checks.

Vice President Kamala Harris, who heads the White House Office on Gun Violence Prevention, told reporters the move addresses the so-called "gun show loophole."

"Currently, gun stores are required by law to conduct a background check for every gun sale," Harris said.

"But for decades, many dealers who sell weapons someplace other than the traditional gun store... have gotten away without conducting background checks," she said.

"All gun dealers now must conduct background checks, no matter where or how they sell their merchandise."

Gun violence is common in the United States, a country where there are more firearms than people. Attempts to clamp down on gun rights are always met with stiff political resistance.

Harris said thousands of unlicensed dealers sell tens of thousands of guns a year without conducting background checks.

Among those who have been able to purchase firearms through the "gun show loophole" are domestic abusers and violent felons, she said.

"Under this regulation, it will not matter if guns are sold on the internet, at a gun show, or at a brick-and-mortar store," Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement.

"If you sell guns predominantly to earn a profit, you must be licensed, and you must conduct background checks," Garland said.

A senior White House official said the Biden administration expects the move will be challenged in court by gun rights groups.

"All of the major actions that the president has taken to reduce gun violence have been challenged," the official said. "And in court after court, the actions are frequently being upheld.

"We have confidence that this is legal."


North Korea's Kim Jong Un Says Now Is Time to be Ready for War

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits a military university in Pyongyang, North Korea, in this picture released on April 11, 2024 by the Korean Central News Agency. KCNA via REUTERS Purchase Licensing Rights
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits a military university in Pyongyang, North Korea, in this picture released on April 11, 2024 by the Korean Central News Agency. KCNA via REUTERS Purchase Licensing Rights
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North Korea's Kim Jong Un Says Now Is Time to be Ready for War

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits a military university in Pyongyang, North Korea, in this picture released on April 11, 2024 by the Korean Central News Agency. KCNA via REUTERS Purchase Licensing Rights
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits a military university in Pyongyang, North Korea, in this picture released on April 11, 2024 by the Korean Central News Agency. KCNA via REUTERS Purchase Licensing Rights

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said unstable geopolitical situations surrounding his country mean now is the time to be more prepared for war than ever, as he inspected the country's main military university, KCNA news agency said on Thursday.

Kim gave field guidance on Wednesday at Kim Jong Il University of Military and Politics, named after his father who died in 2011, which KCNA said is the "highest seat of military education" in the country.

North Korea has stepped up weapons development in recent years under Kim and has forged closer military and political ties with Russia, allegedly aiding Moscow in its war with Ukraine in return for help with strategic military projects.

Kim told university staff and students that "if the enemy opts for military confrontation with the DPRK, the DPRK will deal a death-blow to the enemy without hesitation by mobilizing all means in its possession," KCNA reported.

DPRK is short for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the North's official name, Reuters reported.

"Outlining the complicated international situation ... and the uncertain and unstable military and political situation around the DPRK, he said that now is the time to be more thoroughly prepared for a war than ever before," KCNA said.

Earlier this month, Kim supervised the test launch of a new hypersonic intermediate-range ballistic missile using solid fuel, which analysts said would bolster the North's ability to deploy missiles more effectively than liquid-fuel variants.

North Korea has accused the United States and South Korea of provoking military tensions by conducting what it called "war maneuvers" as the allies have conducted military drills with greater intensity and scale in recent months.


Israeli Defense Minister Says Direct Iranian Attack Would Require Appropriate Response

 An Israeli tank maneuvers next to the Israel-Gaza border, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, as seen from Israel, April 10, 2024. (Reuters)
An Israeli tank maneuvers next to the Israel-Gaza border, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, as seen from Israel, April 10, 2024. (Reuters)
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Israeli Defense Minister Says Direct Iranian Attack Would Require Appropriate Response

 An Israeli tank maneuvers next to the Israel-Gaza border, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, as seen from Israel, April 10, 2024. (Reuters)
An Israeli tank maneuvers next to the Israel-Gaza border, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, as seen from Israel, April 10, 2024. (Reuters)

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said on Thursday that Israel would respond directly to any attack by Iran.

“A direct Iranian attack will require an appropriate Israeli response against Iran," Gallant told US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, according to remarks issued by his office.

The Pentagon said the two discussed the United States' "iron-clad" commitment to Israel's security against threats from Iran and its proxies.

"Echoing President Biden's unequivocal message to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, Secretary Austin assured Minister Gallant that Israel could count on full US support to defend Israel against Iranian attacks, which Tehran has publicly threatened," the Pentagon said.

It added that a visit by the top US general for the Middle East, Army General Michael "Erik" Kurilla, to Israel had been moved up so he could meet with Israeli military leadership and discuss "current security threats." Kurilla has been travelling to Israel regularly in recent months.


Chinese Official Talks with North Korean Counterpart in Nations’ Highest-Level Meeting in Years

Zhao Leji, current Communist Party of China's Politburo Standing Committee member, applauds as he is introduced as a member of the Communist Party of China's Politburo Standing Committee, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on October 23, 2022. (AFP)
Zhao Leji, current Communist Party of China's Politburo Standing Committee member, applauds as he is introduced as a member of the Communist Party of China's Politburo Standing Committee, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on October 23, 2022. (AFP)
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Chinese Official Talks with North Korean Counterpart in Nations’ Highest-Level Meeting in Years

Zhao Leji, current Communist Party of China's Politburo Standing Committee member, applauds as he is introduced as a member of the Communist Party of China's Politburo Standing Committee, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on October 23, 2022. (AFP)
Zhao Leji, current Communist Party of China's Politburo Standing Committee member, applauds as he is introduced as a member of the Communist Party of China's Politburo Standing Committee, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on October 23, 2022. (AFP)

A top Chinese official arrived in North Korea and held talks on how to boost their cooperation, North Korea’s state media reported Friday, in the counties’ highest-level meeting in about five years.

Zhao Leji, who is chairman of China’s National People’s Congress and considered the No. 3 official in the ruling Communist Party, arrived in North Korea on Thursday. China’s government earlier said he will stay in North Korea until Saturday.

Zhao met his North Korean counterpart Choe Ryong Hae later Thursday and discussed how to promote exchanges and cooperation on all areas such as politics, economy and culture, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency reported.

The two also exchanged views on unspecified regional and international issues of mutual concerns, KCNA said.

Zhao is one of the seven members of the Politburo Standing Committee, the Communist Party’s top leadership body headed by Chinese leader Xi Jinping. Zhao's visit to North Korea marked the first bilateral exchange involving a Chinese Politburo Standing Committee member since the coronavirus pandemic started. In 2019, the two countries held two summit meetings between Xi and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Observers say North Korea and China are expected to hold a number of exchanges this year to mark the 75th year since they established diplomatic ties.

North Korea has been seeking to boost its cooperation with China and Russia in the face of a standoff with the United States and South Korea over the North's advancing nuclear program.

China, North Korea’s biggest aid benefactor, is believed to have long provided clandestine assistance to North Korea in violation of international sanctions.

Kim traveled to Russia in September for a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The US, South Korea and others accuse North Korea of supplying conventional weapons for Russia’s war in Ukraine in return for advanced weapons technologies and other support.


US Does Not Expect to Be Drawn into War but Predicts Attack by Iran against Israel

Iranians burn an Israeli flag during a rally marking Quds Day and the funeral of members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps who were killed in a suspected Israeli airstrike on the Iranian embassy complex in the Syrian capital Damascus, in Tehran, Iran, April 5, 2024. Majid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via Reuters
Iranians burn an Israeli flag during a rally marking Quds Day and the funeral of members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps who were killed in a suspected Israeli airstrike on the Iranian embassy complex in the Syrian capital Damascus, in Tehran, Iran, April 5, 2024. Majid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via Reuters
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US Does Not Expect to Be Drawn into War but Predicts Attack by Iran against Israel

Iranians burn an Israeli flag during a rally marking Quds Day and the funeral of members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps who were killed in a suspected Israeli airstrike on the Iranian embassy complex in the Syrian capital Damascus, in Tehran, Iran, April 5, 2024. Majid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via Reuters
Iranians burn an Israeli flag during a rally marking Quds Day and the funeral of members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps who were killed in a suspected Israeli airstrike on the Iranian embassy complex in the Syrian capital Damascus, in Tehran, Iran, April 5, 2024. Majid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via Reuters

The United States expects an attack by Iran against Israel but one that would not be big enough to draw Washington into war, a US official said late on Thursday.

The White House said earlier Washington did not want conflict to spread in the Middle East and the US had told Iran it was not involved in an air strike against a top Iranian military commander in Damascus.

The White House added it warned Iran to not use that attack as a pretext to escalate further in the region.

Suspected Israeli warplanes bombed Iran's embassy in Damascus on Monday in a strike for which Iran has vowed revenge and in which a top Iranian general and six other Iranian military officers were killed, ratcheting up tension in a region already strained by the Gaza war.

Iranian sources told Reuters Tehran has signaled to Washington that it will respond to Israel's attack on its Syrian embassy in a way that aims to avoid major escalation and it will not act hastily, as Tehran presses demands including a Gaza truce.

The United States has been on high alert about possible retaliatory strikes from Iran and US envoys have been working to lower tensions.

Palestinian group Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200, according to Israeli tallies. Israel's military assault on Hamas-governed Gaza has since killed over 33,000 according to the local health ministry, displaced nearly all of Gaza's 2.3 million population, caused a humanitarian crisis and led to genocide allegations that Israeli denies.

Iran-backed groups have declared support for Palestinians, waging attacks from Lebanon, Yemen and Iraq. Tehran has avoided direct confrontation with Israel or the United States, while declaring support for its allies.


Avalanche in Austrian Alps Kills 3 People

Membersof the emergency services prepare for the search in Vent, near Soelden, Austria after an avalanche occured on April 11, 2024. (Photo by various sources / AFP) / Austria OUT
Membersof the emergency services prepare for the search in Vent, near Soelden, Austria after an avalanche occured on April 11, 2024. (Photo by various sources / AFP) / Austria OUT
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Avalanche in Austrian Alps Kills 3 People

Membersof the emergency services prepare for the search in Vent, near Soelden, Austria after an avalanche occured on April 11, 2024. (Photo by various sources / AFP) / Austria OUT
Membersof the emergency services prepare for the search in Vent, near Soelden, Austria after an avalanche occured on April 11, 2024. (Photo by various sources / AFP) / Austria OUT

Three Dutch skiers were killed in an avalanche on Thursday near the resort town of Soelden in the Austrian Alps, the police said.
The victims were part of a 17-person ski touring group from the Netherlands that was on an ascent towards a mountain refuge with four Austrian guides, the Tirol state police said in a statement. Ski touring involves skis with special bindings and skins that make moving uphill possible.
"Shortly before 11 a.m. (0900 GMT), during an ascent towards the Martin Buesch Shelter east of the Talleit Peak, an avalanche roughly 180 meters (590 feet) long and 80 meters wide occurred," the statement said.
The avalanche swept away four members of the group, two of whom were dead when rescuers found them. The two others were rescued injured; one was flown to hospital by helicopter and the other remained on the mountain, the statement said.
The skier who remained on the mountain died, a police spokesman said later. 
The avalanche warning level in Tyrol province, where Soelden is located, was “moderate,” the second level on a five-tier scale, but experts warned of the possibility of avalanches caused by loose snow.


China Sanctions 2 US Companies Over 'Support for Arms Sales to Taiwan'

A motorcyclist looks at a tilted building caused by the April 3 magnitude-7.4 earthquake at Tucheng district in New Taipei City on April 6, 2024. (Photo by Sam Yeh / AFP)
A motorcyclist looks at a tilted building caused by the April 3 magnitude-7.4 earthquake at Tucheng district in New Taipei City on April 6, 2024. (Photo by Sam Yeh / AFP)
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China Sanctions 2 US Companies Over 'Support for Arms Sales to Taiwan'

A motorcyclist looks at a tilted building caused by the April 3 magnitude-7.4 earthquake at Tucheng district in New Taipei City on April 6, 2024. (Photo by Sam Yeh / AFP)
A motorcyclist looks at a tilted building caused by the April 3 magnitude-7.4 earthquake at Tucheng district in New Taipei City on April 6, 2024. (Photo by Sam Yeh / AFP)

China on Thursday announced sanctions against two US defense companies over what it says is their support for arms sales to Taiwan, the self-governing island democracy Beijing claims as its own territory to be recovered by force if necessary.
The announcement freezes the assets of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems and General Dynamics Land Systems held within China. The measure also bars the companies' management from entering the country, The Associated Press reported.
Filings show General Dynamics operates a half-dozen Gulfstream and jet aviation services operations in China, which remains heavily reliant on foreign aerospace technology even as it attempts to build its own presence in the field.
The company helps make the Abrams tank being purchased by Taiwan to replace outdated armor intended to deter or resist an invasion from China.
General Atomics produces the Predator and Reaper drones used by the US military. Chinese authorities did not go into details on the company's alleged involvement with supplying arms to Taiwan.


Ukraine's Parliament Passes Controversial Law to Boost Much-needed Conscripts

A rescuer works at a site of a Russian drone strike, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kharkiv, Ukraine April 4, 2024. REUTERS/Yevhen Titov
A rescuer works at a site of a Russian drone strike, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kharkiv, Ukraine April 4, 2024. REUTERS/Yevhen Titov
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Ukraine's Parliament Passes Controversial Law to Boost Much-needed Conscripts

A rescuer works at a site of a Russian drone strike, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kharkiv, Ukraine April 4, 2024. REUTERS/Yevhen Titov
A rescuer works at a site of a Russian drone strike, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kharkiv, Ukraine April 4, 2024. REUTERS/Yevhen Titov

Ukraine’s parliament passed a law Thursday that will govern how the country recruits new conscripts, following months of delay and after thousands of amendments were submitted to water down the initial draft.
Lawmakers dragged their feet for months over the law, which is expected to be unpopular. The law was spurred by a request from Ukraine’s military, which wanted to mobilize up to 500,000 more troops, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in December.
Exhausted soldiers, on the front lines since Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, had no means to rotate out for rest, while many thousands of Ukrainian men evade the draft, The Associated Press said.
The law was passed to the backdrop of an escalating Russian campaign that has devastated Ukraine’s energy infrastructure in recent weeks. Authorities said Russian overnight missile and drone attacks again struck infrastructure and power facilities across several regions and completely destroyed the Trypilska thermal power plant, the largest power generating facility in Kyiv region.
The law brings into effect a host of changes to the current system by expanding the powers of Ukrainian authorities to issue draft notices using an electronic system.
Incumbent army chief Oleksandr Syrskyi and Zelenskyy have since revised that figure after conducting an audit, saying the number needed was not as high because soldiers can be rotated from the rear.
Former army commander Valerii Zaluzhnyi’s dismissal from his post was reportedly over the mobilization issue.
The vote came after parliament’s defense committee removed a key provision from the draft Tuesday that would ensure the rotation of servicemen after 36 months of combat, a move that surprised some lawmakers as it had been a promise of the Ukrainian leadership.
Lawmaker Oleksii Honcharenko said in a Telegram post that he was shocked by the move to remove the provision. It was likely taken out because, considering the scale and intensity of the war against Russia, it would prove difficult to implement. Ukraine already suffers from a lack of trained recruits capable of fighting, and demobilizing soldiers on the front lines now would deprive Ukrainian forces of their most capable fighters.
On Wednesday, the parliamentary defense committee instructed the Defense Ministry to draft a comprehensive bill on demobilization of military personnel within the next eight months, news reports cited ministry spokesperson Dmytro Lazutkin as saying.
In nighttime missile and drone attacks, at least 10 of the strikes damaged energy infrastructure in Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said more than 200,000 people in the region were without power and Russia “is trying to destroy Kharkiv's infrastructure and leave the city in darkness.”
In the Odesa region, four people were killed and 14 injured in Russian missile strikes Wednesday evening, said regional governor Oleh Kiper.
Energy facilities were also hit in the Zaporizhzhia and Lviv regions.


Biden Hosts First Philippines-Japan Summit as China Looms

People hold Japan and US flags on the day US President Joe Biden meets Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and his spouse Yuko Kishida during an official White House State Arrival ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C., US, April 10, 2024. REUTERS/Elizabeth FrantzFrantz
People hold Japan and US flags on the day US President Joe Biden meets Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and his spouse Yuko Kishida during an official White House State Arrival ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C., US, April 10, 2024. REUTERS/Elizabeth FrantzFrantz
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Biden Hosts First Philippines-Japan Summit as China Looms

People hold Japan and US flags on the day US President Joe Biden meets Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and his spouse Yuko Kishida during an official White House State Arrival ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C., US, April 10, 2024. REUTERS/Elizabeth FrantzFrantz
People hold Japan and US flags on the day US President Joe Biden meets Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and his spouse Yuko Kishida during an official White House State Arrival ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C., US, April 10, 2024. REUTERS/Elizabeth FrantzFrantz

US President Joe Biden holds the first ever summit with the leaders of Japan and the Philippines Thursday to show support for Manila against China's growing assertiveness in the disputed South China Sea.
Biden's three-way meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos follows repeated confrontations between Chinese and Philippine vessels in the hotly contested waterway, AFP said.
"President Marcos is coming under pressure from the PRC's aggressive tactics," a senior US administration official told reporters, using the acronym for the People's Republic of China.
"What you'll see is a clear demonstration of support and resolve from both President Biden and Prime Minister Kishida. We stand shoulder to shoulder with Marcos."
The three countries are expected to announce new joint naval exercises along with Australia, similar to drills they had in the region at the weekend, officials said.
They are also set to unveil new economic cooperation measures.
Biden, 81, and Marcos, 66, who is seen as closer to Washington than his more authoritarian and China-leaning predecessor Rodrigo Duterte, will also hold separate talks on Thursday.
Kishida is already in Washington following a lavish state visit on Wednesday during which he and Biden unveiled the biggest ever upgrade in defense ties between their countries.
- 'Ironclad' -
China claims almost the entire South China Sea, brushing aside competing claims from several Southeast Asian nations, including the Philippines, and an international ruling that has declared its stance baseless.
The United States has a mutual defense pact with Manila and has repeatedly declared its "ironclad" commitment to defending the Philippines against an armed attack in the South China Sea.
Tensions have become particularly acute around the Second Thomas Shoal, a remote reef in the Spratly Islands.
Biden's commitment to the Philippines was "clear" and he had "repeated many times" that Washington's defense treaty applied to the South China Sea, a second US official said.
The trilateral summit is part of Biden's efforts to seal alliances with like-minded nations in a region that both Beijing and Washington consider part of their geopolitical backyard.
They are the latest Asia-Pacific allies to be hosted by Biden, who was joined by Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol at Camp David in August.
Biden has also moved to manage tensions with China, holding a two-hour phone call with President Xi Jinping last week and a face-to-face meeting in San Francisco in November.
On Wednesday Biden said the major upgrade in defense ties with Japan was "purely defensive" and "not aimed at any one nation or a threat to the region."
But tensions have continued to mount.
Talks are still underway between the Philippines and Japan for a defense pact that would allow the countries to deploy troops on each other's territory.
Manila already has a similar agreement with Australia and the United States.


FBI Concerned About Possible Coordinated Attack in US after Russia Massacre

FILE - Russian President Vladimir Putin lights a candle on March 24, 2024, to commemorate victims of a deadly attack two days earlier at the Crocus City Hall. (Mikhail Metzel, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)
FILE - Russian President Vladimir Putin lights a candle on March 24, 2024, to commemorate victims of a deadly attack two days earlier at the Crocus City Hall. (Mikhail Metzel, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)
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FBI Concerned About Possible Coordinated Attack in US after Russia Massacre

FILE - Russian President Vladimir Putin lights a candle on March 24, 2024, to commemorate victims of a deadly attack two days earlier at the Crocus City Hall. (Mikhail Metzel, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)
FILE - Russian President Vladimir Putin lights a candle on March 24, 2024, to commemorate victims of a deadly attack two days earlier at the Crocus City Hall. (Mikhail Metzel, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)

The FBI is concerned about the possibility of an organized attack in the United States similar to the one that killed scores at a Russian concert hall last month, the bureau's director plans to tell a House of Representatives panel on Thursday.
“Looking back over my career in law enforcement, I’d be hard pressed to think of a time where so many threats to our public safety and national security were so elevated all at once,” Christopher Wray is set to tell lawmakers during a budget hearing. “But that is the case as I sit here today.”
The March 22 attack on a concert hall in suburban Moscow killed at least 144 people, the deadliest in Russia in 20 years. A branch of ISIS claimed responsibility, but Russian President Vladimir Putin, without citing evidence, has sought to blame Ukraine.
US officials have been worried about the possibility of an attack carried out by an individual or small group inspired by the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. But the FBI is growing concerned about a more coordinated attack following the concert massacre in Russia, Wray will say during testimony, according to Reuters.
Of increasing concern "is the potential for a coordinated attack here in the homeland, akin to the ISIS-K attack we saw at the Russia Concert Hall a couple weeks ago,” he will say.

Wray also plans to press lawmakers to renew a US surveillance program set to expire this month, calling it an indispensable tool against US adversaries. A modest overhaul of that program was blocked in the House on Wednesday amid concerns from members of both parties that it did not go far enough in curbing the government’s surveillance powers.