SEOUL, South Korea -- President Joe Biden will meet on Thursday with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts, a summit that’s expected to mark a significant victory for Washington after years of pushing Tokyo and Seoul to get along and move on from a longstanding dispute over Japan's wartime practices.
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol is heading to Camp David for a historic trilateral summit on Friday with Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. The U.S. has separate defense treaties with South Korea and Japan, countries that are in close proximity but have not been allies.
The agreement is also expected to include investment in technology to create a leader-level hotline and new mechanisms to share intelligence. Plans for annual military exercises and an annual summit are expected to be part of the agreement.
Relations between South Korea and Japan have drastically improved in the past year, despite opposition from within each country, as a result of the Biden administration's efforts to mediate.
Notably most recently was Yoon's speech on the Aug. 15 anniversary of South Korea's liberation from Japanese colonial rule. This is a day when past leaders of South Korea traditionally condemned and demanded "apology" from Japan on thorny issues stemming from colonial rule.
But Yoon said this week the two are "now fundamental partners sharing universal values" with their "security inextricably linked" and the need to "stand together."
For the United States, Japan and South Korea are both considered "core allies -- not just in the region, but around the world," U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday.
He added, "Strengthening our trilateral cooperation is critical to delivering for our people, for the region, and for the world. It’s a force multiplier for good.”
Speaking on Tuesday at an event marking the 78th anniversary of the end of World War II, Kishida said Japan since the end of the war "has consistently walked the path of a peace-loving nation."
He added that Japan was "determined to join forces with the international community and do its utmost to resolve the various challenges facing the world."
Yoon will travel on Thursday immediately after a funeral ceremony for his late father, Yoon Ki Jung, an honorary professor at Seoul's Yonsei University. He died Tuesday at the age of 92.