Biden celebrates Democrats holding the Senate on second day of Asia summits

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

President Joe Biden arrived in Cambodia on Saturday still reeling from midterm election results that have provided an unexpected boost at home in his second two years in office.

A day after arriving in Asia, he received another message from home that could help him in the rest of the international swings — CNN and other markets predicted his party would retain control of the Senate.

“We feel good where we are. And I know I’m a cocky optimist,” he said from his hotel lobby Sunday after the screening.

However, the scale of the challenges abroad and the effort to translate 21 months of intense engagement into tangible results for the US alliance will test the value of that political capital on the international stage, even as the votes are still being counted.

Biden faced a series of serious challenges in his meeting Sunday with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yon Suk Yeol, critical allies in the Indo-Pacific region, which has been rocked by an increasingly belligerent North Korea. A persuasive and confrontational China, long a key driving issue for the Biden administration, also stands out.

“Our countries have engaged in trilateral cooperation for years based on shared concerns about the nuclear and missile threats North Korea poses to our nation,” Biden said at the start of the trilateral talks.

“As North Korea continues to engage in provocative behavior, this partnership is more important than ever,” Biden said.

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U.S. President Joe Biden, center, meets with South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, left, and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, right, on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.  (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Biden also met individually with Kishida and Yona before their trilateral meeting.

Biden stopped by the Asia summit as advisers see a clear push to buck historical and political trends in the midterm elections. While Biden’s message will not change dramatically, its meaning is arguably stronger after the American electorate delivered a message that exceeded even the most optimistic White House officials’ expectations.

Biden previously met with Kishida and Yona together during a NATO summit in June, pledging to improve cooperation, a difficult task for major US allies with historically fraught relations.

But that cooperation is imperative, as North Korea’s recent, heightened aggression will be key for the trio of leaders on Sunday. North Korea has conducted 32 missile launches this year, according to CNN’s tally of both ballistic and cruise missiles. In contrast, it conducted only four inspections in 2020, and eight in 2021.

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan indicated on Saturday that the meeting would not lead to concrete results, telling reporters on Air Force One that the leaders “will be able to discuss broader security issues in the Indo-Pacific region and, in particular, the threat posed by North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs.” ”

The tripartite meeting comes one day before Biden’s one-on-one meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping, their first face-to-face meeting since Biden took office. This meeting will take place within the framework of the G20 summit in Bali.

Speaking to reporters Sunday morning, Biden said he was entering the meeting with Xi in a position of relative strength.

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“I know I will come stronger,” he said, noting that he knew Xi well and that there were “very few misunderstandings” between the two leaders.

“We just have to figure out what the red lines are and what are the most important things for us in the next few years,” Biden said.

Biden, Yun and Kishida also planned to discuss Monday’s meeting during the trilateral meeting.

“One thing that President Biden certainly wants to do with our closest allies is preview what he plans to do and ask the leaders of (South Korea) and Japan, ‘What would you like me to raise?’ What do you want me to do?” Sullivan said, adding that it “will be a theme, but it won’t be the main event of the tripartite.”

U.S. President Joe Biden meets with South Korean President Yon Suk Yeol, left, and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.  (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Earlier on Sunday, Biden attended an East Asia summit, building on Saturday’s appearance at an ASEAN summit aimed at boosting US-India-Pacific relations. During his meeting with Asian leaders, Biden raised the issue of North Korea, China and Myanmar, according to a White House reading.

A day before his meeting with Xi, Biden stressed that “the US will vigorously compete with (China) and speak out against (China’s) human rights abuses, while maintaining open lines of communication and ensuring that competition does not turn into conflict.”

Biden left for Bali later Sunday night.

This leg of the trip, a senior administration official told reporters this week, reflects “increased engagement with ASEAN and Southeast Asia” under the Biden administration.

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The official added that Biden “will lay out our vision of how to maintain the momentum of increased engagement and try to also address the important concerns of ASEAN in a way that they are looking for,” in keeping with a theme of Biden’s presidency. alliance in strategic competition with China.

Among the main topics of discussion this weekend in Cambodia, the official pointed out that the ongoing conflict in Myanmar, where the military seized power last year in a coup.

World leaders will discuss “efforts to promote respect for human rights, the rule of law and good governance, a rules-based international order, and to address the current crisis in Burma.”

Biden arrived in Phnom Penh on Saturday, holding a bilateral meeting with ASEAN Chairman and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, as well as attending an ASEAN-US summit.

“This is my third trip, my third summit, the second in person, and it speaks to the importance of the United States in our relationship with ASEAN and our commitment to the centrality of ASEAN. ASEAN is at the heart of my administration’s Indo-Pacific strategy. And we continue to strengthen our commitment to an empowered, united ASEAN,” Biden said at the start of the summit.

On Friday, Biden made a three-hour stop in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, where he attended the COP27 climate summit and met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.


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