Biden pushes economic, security aims as he ends South Korea visit

Biden pushes economic, security aims as he ends South Korea visit

Seoul: President Joe Biden tended to both business and security interests Sunday as he wrapped up a three-day trip to South Korea, first showcasing Hyundai's pledge to invest at least USD 10 billion in the United States and later mingling with troops at a nearby military base.

Biden's visit to Osan Air Base, where thousands of U.S. and South Korean service members work side by side to monitor the rapidly evolving North Korean nuclear threat, was his final stop before continuing to Japan.

You are the front line, right here in this room, the president said in a command center with maps of the Korean Peninsula projected across screens on a wall.

It was a day that brought together two key messages that Biden is trying to project during his first trip to Asia as president.

At a time of high inflation and simmering dissatisfaction at home, Biden emphasized his global mission to strengthen the American economy by convincing foreign companies like Hyundai to launch new operations in the United States. And he wanted to demonstrate solidarity with nervous Asian allies who live in the shadow of North Korea's nuclear weapons and grew skeptical of U.S. security commitments while President Donald Trump was in office.

Earlier Sunday, Biden brushed aside questions about any possible provocation by North Korea, such as testing a nuclear weapon or ballistic missile during his trip, saying, We are prepared for anything North Korea does. Asked if he had a message for the country's leader, Kim Jong Un, Biden offered a clipped response: Hello. Period.

It was another sharp departure from Trump, who once said he fell in love with Kim.

Biden's first appearance of the day was alongside Hyundai chief executive Eusiun Chung to highlight the company's expanded investment in the United States, including 5.5 billion for an electric vehicle and battery factory in Georgia.

Electric vehicles are good for our climate goals, but they're also good for jobs, Biden said. And they're good for business.

Chung also said his company would spend another 5 billion on artificial intelligence for autonomous vehicles and other technologies.

The major U.S. investment by a South Korean company was a reflection of how the countries are leveraging their longstanding military ties into a broader economic partnership.

Earlier in his trip, Biden toured a computer chip plant run by Samsung, the Korean electronics giant that plans to build a 17 billion production facility in Texas. Biden has made greater economic cooperation with South Korea a priority, saying on Saturday that it will bring our two countries even closer together, cooperating even more closely than we already do, and help strengthen our supply chains, secure them against shocks and give our economies a competitive edge.

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