U.S. and South Korean leaders to discuss North Korea, China

U.S. and South Korean leaders to discuss North Korea, China

U.S. President Joe Biden meets South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the White House on Friday to underscore a strategic focus on Asia, while playing down chances of quick progress on the two biggest challenges facing the United States.

The rising power of China as a rival for leadership in Asia and the powder keg of nuclear-armed North Korea loom over the talks.

"The goal here is to understand that this process is likely to be challenging and to give ourselves maximum flexibility," a senior White House official said about dealing with North Korea's nuclear arsenal.

Against that backdrop, Washington's main emphasis is on rebuilding traditional U.S. alliances in the region, especially with South Korea and Japan.

Moon comes to Washington as Biden's second foreign guest. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, visiting in April, was the first, Reuters reported.

The US-South Korean relationship "is the lynchpin of security and prosperity for northeast Asia and a free and open Indo-Pacific," the White House official, who asked not to be identified, said. "President Biden will reaffirm that ironclad commitment."

The White House said this would be the first time a foreign leader has taken part in a Medal of Honor ceremony.

Commercial ties will be high on the agenda. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and her South Korean counterpart will hold separate talks involving a raft of CEOs with a focus on high-tech manufacturing - battery technology, semi-conductors and 5G wireless.