(LEAD) S. Korea, Japan, US summit to move trilateral cooperation to ‘new level’: Kirby

The upcoming trilateral summit between the leaders of South Korea, Japan and the United States will take their countries' three-way cooperation to a new level, a White House official said Wednesday.

John Kirby, National Security Council (NSC) coordinator for strategic communications, said the leaders will also focus on ways to institutionalize such cooperation among their countries.

"This trilateral summit is all about taking affirmative steps towards improving our cooperation with each other in a three-way sort of situation," the NSC spokesperson told a press briefing at the Washington Foreign Press Center.

U.S. President Joe Biden is set to host South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida for a trilateral summit at Camp David on Friday.

Kirby added there will be new initiatives announced Friday that will move "our relationships with each other and amongst each other to a whole new level."

Kirby and many other U.S. officials have noted the upcoming trilateral summit will be historic, partly because it will be the first "standalone" trilateral summit ever to be held between the leaders of the three countries.

Yoon and Kishida will also be the first foreign leaders to visit Camp David under the Biden administration and since 2015.

Kurt Campbell, NSC coordinator for Indo-Pacific affairs, highlighted the significance of the venue for the upcoming summit in a seminar hosted by the Brookings Institution, a nonprofit organization based in Washington.

"I think we all understand the significance when a meeting is held there (Camp David). It's meant to signal, but with deep symbolism, the importance that we attach to this momentous moment," he told the seminar.

Campbell said the summit will produce a "very ambitious set of initiatives that seek to lock in trilateral engagement both now and in the future."

The initiatives, according to Kirby, will commit the three countries to "long-term" efforts in improving their trilateral cooperation, according to Kirby.

"I think one of the things you are going to see in the initiatives that are announced is that they are very forward looking, and commit ourselves to long-term initiatives improving trilateral cooperation," he told the press briefing, adding the three leaders will be looking at "not just the near future but the far future" when they seek ways to continue or institutionalize their countries' trilateral cooperation.

"I can assure you that following the summit on Friday, there will continue to be meetings and discussions and opportunities to engage trilaterally across all our three administrations going forward," said Kirby.

He also insisted that the initiatives to be announced Friday will be "built for distance."

"We understand that improving trilateral cooperation is, to use the sports analogy, it's a marathon, not a sprint," he said. "And what these three leaders are going to get together on Friday and do is make sure that we are ready for the marathon."

Campbell agreed, saying, "We have the confidence that we will be able to sustain, build on what we believe will be a defining trilateral relationship for the 21st century."

The upcoming summit will naturally focus on security issues as it comes amid North Korea's evolving nuclear and missile threats.

However, it will also cover a broad spectrum of other issues, according to Kirby.

"I want to stress that this summit is more than just about security environment. There's an awful a lot of ways in which we can improve our relationships across a broad spectrum of issues, not just military," he told the press briefing.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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