Biden To Host Philippines, Japan Leaders April 11

US President Joe Biden || Photo: Collected

US President Joe Biden || Photo: Collected

US President Joe Biden will hold the first three-way summit with the leaders of the Philippines and Japan, the White House said Monday, as the United States seeks to shore up alliances against China.

Biden's meeting with Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at the White House on April 11 is the latest in a series of meeting with Asia-Pacific allies.

"The leaders will advance a trilateral partnership built on deep historical ties of friendship" including a "shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific," White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.

The United States has repeatedly called for a "free" Asia-Pacific region as China asserts its growing power, particularly over its claims to sovereignty over almost all of the South China Sea.

Tensions have been particularly high between the Philippines and Beijing as ships from both countries have clashed near contested reefs.

Japan and the Philippines said in November that they would begin negotiations for a defense pact that would allow them to deploy troops on each other's territory.

Marcos and Kishida announced the start of the process after talks in Manila as they seek to counter China's growing military pressure.

After the three-way summit, Biden will hold a separate bilateral meeting with Marcos, the White House said.

"The president will reaffirm the ironclad alliance between the United States and the Philippines," Jean-Pierre said.

Kishida is coming to the White House the day before on April 10 for a state visit that had already been announced.

Last year Kishida became the first Japanese leader to visit the Philippines since 2017.

Japan invaded and occupied the Philippines during World War II, but the two countries have since grown closer due to trade and investment, and more recently, to counter China's assertiveness in the region.

The Philippines-Japan summit echoes the three-way meeting that Biden held at his Camp David presidential retreat in August with the Japanese premier and South Korea's president.

Biden had made a priority of getting Japan and South Korea, two close US allies, to overcome years of tension and work together against China and North Korea.

Biden held a landmark summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping in California in November in a bid to prevent tensions between the two superpowers from spiralling into conflict.

But while they have taken steps including restoring military-to-military communications, relations between Washington and Beijing remain strained._AFP

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