Moon Jae-in arrives in Washington as the second foreign guest of the US president. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga was the first in April.
President Joe Biden welcomes his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in to the White House on Friday to underscore his strategic focus on Asia while downplaying chances for rapid progress on the two most significant challenges facing the United States.
Indeed, China's rising power as a rival for leadership in Asia and North Korea's nuclear powder keg looms over the talks.
The Biden administration has acknowledged that it does not have an easy answer to any problem.
The point here is to understand that this is a potentially challenging process and to provide us with as much flexibility as possible," said a senior White House official on North Korea's approach to dealing with nuclear weapons.
In this context, Washington emphasizes rebuilding its traditional alliances in the region, especially with South Korea and Japan.
While Donald Trump treated foreign partners alternately as fierce business competitors or freeloaders, Biden once again relied on the democratic alliances forged in the bloody conflicts of the 20th century as the nucleus for maintaining American supremacy.
Moon arrives in Washington as Biden's second foreign guest. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga was the first in April.
Relations between the United States and South Korea are a long way from security and prosperity to Northeast Asia and a free and open Indo-Pacific, which has been asked to remain anonymous.
He added that President Biden would reaffirm his firm commitment.
As a symbol of the deep and complex history behind those ties, Moon will join Biden in bestowing the Medal of Honor, America's highest military honor for bravery, to a 94-year-old American veteran of the Korean War.
Then-First Lieutenant Ralph Puckett was wounded in 1950 while leading American and Korean soldiers in a desperate defense of a hill against an overwhelming force of Chinese troops, an early episode after China's decisive entry into the war.
The White House said it would be the first time a foreign leader had attended the Medal of Honor ceremony.
Business relations will be high on the agenda.
Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and her South Korean counterpart will hold separate talks with several CEOs focused on high-tech manufacturing.
But the bulk of the meeting between Biden and Moon will likely focus on China, including its threats to Taiwan and attempts to get North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons.
However, it is not expected that there will be many clear and forceful statements when both presidents issue a joint statement after the meeting.
When asked if he would express concern about the future of Taiwan, the White House official said there would be "a reference to general regional security and peacekeeping."
And about North Korea, which has frustrated American presidents for decades, similarly, vague language is likely to be used.
Our goals are a complete denial of the Korean Peninsula," the official said.
However, the White House has a clear understanding that the previous administration's efforts did not achieve this goal.
Previous attempts to reach a so-called "grand deal" with Pyongyang or to show diplomats "strategic patience" have been abandoned.
Now the White House is ready to block the diplomatic corridor as a less important realist, despite its liberal views and a pragmatic approach.
We understand that previous efforts have been difficult, and we have tried to learn from them.
Asked if Biden would consider moving forward with the Trump summit, which made headlines but ultimately failed, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un and White House press secretary Jen Psaki gave a stern response Thursday. ۔
I don't expect it to be at the top of your agenda, he said.