South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s meeting with Biden in U.S. to center on vaccines, North Korea


South Korean President Moon Jae-in departed Wednesday for a White House summit with President Biden and other U.S. stops as he looks to jumpstart COVID-19 vaccine production and North Korean peace talks.

Mr. Moon and Mr. Biden will hold a joint press conference Friday after their first in-person meeting.

The South Korean leader has “high expectations” for his first overseas trip since the start of the pandemic and hopes to speed deliveries of U.S.-made vaccines to his country and strike a deal on technology transfer to make the shots domestically, according to the Yonhap News Agency.

Mr. Moon also wants to get on the same page as the U.S. in seeking to denuclearize his peninsula as North Korea remains unpredictable.

Love letters and a pair of summits between former President Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un failed to produce the breakthrough Mr. Moon had hoped for, and the Biden administration is trying to thread the needle between the past two administrations’ strategies.

The Obama administration took a more aloof approach during Mr. Biden’s time as vice president, hoping North Korea would change its belligerent behavior before engaging on a diplomatic level.

“Our policy will not focus on achieving a grand bargain, nor will it rely on strategic patience,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters in late April. “Our policy calls for a calibrated, practical approach that is open to and will explore diplomacy with [North Korea] and to make practical progress that increases the security of the United States, our allies and deployed forces.”

Yonhap reported the Moon administration was coy about whether South Korea might be floated as a new member of the Quad that includes Australia, India, Japan and the U.S. during the White House talks, although the scheduling of military exercises between South Korea and the U.S. is sure to come up.

Mr. Moon plans to stop at the Arlington National Cemetery on Thursday to pay respects to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier before meeting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at a groundbreaking for the Wall of Remembrance at the Korean War Veterans Memorial.

Mr. Moon may stop at SK Innovation, a South Korean company that makes batteries in Atlanta, before heading home Sunday.

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