US President Joe Biden checks his watch after arriving at the White House in Washington on Wednesday. Reuters
Biden departs for the five day trip on Thursday, after spending several months organising allies to punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a "special operation."
He meets new South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol in Seoul and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo, leaders who share anxieties about North Korea and China and are eager to build on their long alliances with Washington.
"At its core this (trip) is about building out the alliance network in East Asia," in part to counter any Chinese actions against Taiwan, said Evan Medeiros, an Asia specialist in the Barack Obama administration.
US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden arrive at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on Wednesday. AFP
Sweeping sanctions Biden led against Russia would not be so simple against Beijing. China is South Korea's largest trade partner, and the biggest source of goods that Japan imports, in each case beating no. 2 United States by a wide margin. Complicating Biden's message, his administration has not laid out a plan to counter Beijing if it moves to retake the self-governed island of Taiwan, even as US intelligence sees preparations underway.
Similarly, there's little public strategy to counter Beijing's no-COVID lockdown policy that some economists believe could provoke a global recession.
Even with those shortcomings, support for Washington from Seoul and Tokyo is stronger than in recent history.
"The president's lucky in who he has as counterparts," said Michael Green, an Asia specialist at the Washington think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies. "I was doing the math on this, and it's been at least 20 years since an American president could travel to Japan and Korea and count on the leaders in both countries being so forthrightly pro-alliance."
China hosts the leaders of squabbling neighbours South Korea and Japan on Tuesday, flexing its diplomatic muscle with America’s two key military allies in Asia and seeking regional unity on how to deal with a belligerent North Korea.
As optimism grows that the United States and China are nearing a trade deal, Japan kicks off its own negotiations with Washington from Monday, hoping to resolve some of the issues «very quickly.» US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Japan›s Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi
The 22-year-old, who retained his 100m freestyle crown in the second fastest time ever on Thursday, clocked 50.28 seconds in Gwangju — over a second quicker than Hungary’s Kristof Milak
After a marathon session stretching into early Friday, the contestants simply could not be separated. Each winner received a $50,000 prize and a trophy - and they coined their own word for their joint success, "octochamps."
Mansoor Abulhoul said on Twitter, “The UAE will be one of the first countries under the ETA scheme. Emirati citizens will not need a visa to visit the UK from 2023."
"It is either something they ingested which will point to poisoning, whether its food or drinks, or it is something they inhaled," says official.
The Gilgit-Baltistan tourism department has already issued 700 permits to international climbers, and as many were expected to be issued this summer, an official told Dawn.