SEOUL, Nov. 12 (UPI) — South Korean President Moon Jae-in and U.S. President-elect Joe Biden agreed to cooperate closely to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue during a phone call on Thursday, according to South Korea’s presidential Blue House.
Moon and Biden spoke for 14 minutes on Thursday morning in their first call since the former vice president won last week’s election, Blue House presidential spokesman Kang Min-seok said at a press briefing.
Biden said the United States will “continue to firmly maintain our defense commitment to South Korea and cooperate closely to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue,” Kang said.
The president-elect called South Korea “the linchpin of security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region,” Kang added.
Moon offered congratulations to the president-elect and said his victory was a reflection of Biden’s “long experience in government affairs, outstanding leadership and the high expectations of the American people for a clear vision.”
The South Korean president noted the 70-year alliance between the two countries to defend their shared values of democracy and human rights and said he will communicate with Biden to work toward peace on the Korean Peninsula and the denuclearization of North Korea.
Nuclear negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington have been at a standstill since a summit with Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump in Hanoi, Vietnam, last year failed to produce an agreement.
Inter-Korean relations have also been strained, with North Korea cutting off all communications with the South and blowing up a shared liaison office in June. Earlier this week, Moon said that the Biden administration will offer an “environment in which new opportunities and solutions can be found” to improve the atmosphere on the peninsula.
Moon and Biden agreed to work together on global challenges, including climate change and COVID-19 and agreed to meet “as soon as possible” after Biden’s inauguration, Kang said.
Biden also spoke with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga by phone Thursday and vowed to strengthen the U.S.-Japan alliance. He also affirmed Washington’s commitment to defending the Senkaku Islands, a group of uninhabited islets whose sovereignty is disputed by China, Kyodo News reported.
Thursday’s phone calls by the president-elect were the latest in a series of conversations he’s had with foreign leaders since his election, including those from Canada, France, Germany, Ireland and Britain.
Biden clinched victory on Saturday after winning a series of battleground states to cross the 270-electoral vote threshold.
Trump, however, has not yet conceded and continues to file lawsuits calling for state recounts and making baseless claims of voter fraud, despite widespread consensus that the election was held fairly. His administration has also refused to assist with the transition efforts.