World leaders spoke to President-elect Joe Biden on Thursday about cooperating on the coronavirus pandemic, climate change and other issues, even as President Donald Trump’s refusal to concede complicates the U.S. post-election transition.
In his conversations with key Asian allies, Biden seemed intent on easing their uncertainties about a less-engaged Washington, which built up during the four years of Trump’s “America First” approach.
A look at their conversations:
SOUTH KOREA: The office of South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Biden during their 14-minute call reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to defend South Korea and said he would closely coordinate with Seoul in a push to defuse a nuclear standoff with North Korea.
Biden’s office said he expressed his desire to strengthen the U.S.-South Korea alliance as a “linchpin of security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region.” Biden also praised Moon for South Korea’s gains in its anti-virus campaign and discussed cooperation over a global economic recovery and the countries' “mutual interest in strengthening democracy," his office said.
Kang Min-seok, Moon’s spokesperson, said the leaders also agreed to meet “possibly soon” after Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20.
Moon, who has ambitions for inter-Korean engagement, helped set up Trump’s leader-to-leader nuclear diplomacy with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, which has now stalled over disagreements in exchanging a release of crippling U.S.-led sanctions against the North and the North’s disarmament steps.
But Seoul also struggled to deal with an unconventional U.S. president who saw much less value in alliances than his predecessors did. Trump has constantly complained about the cost of stationing 28,500 U.S. troops in South Korea. A cost-sharing agreement expired in 2019 and the two sides have failed to agree on a replacement.