Camp David Summit highlights push for trilateral cooperation between Japan, the US and South Korea

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North Korean soldiers at the military parade

The leaders of South Korea, Japan and the US will meet in Maryland primarily to deter North Korea, in a summit that could be seen as a threat to both North Korea and China. The summit, scheduled for August 19 at Camp David, in Maryland, will see US President Joe Biden meeting with South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

This gathering aims to strengthen the ties between Seoul and Tokyo in light of nuclear threats from North Korea and China’s growing assertiveness.

North Korea has criticized the increasing military cooperation among these three nations, viewing it as an attempt to establish an “Asian version of NATO.” China, a key ally of Pyongyang, has levelled similar allegations.

On July 27th, North Korea flexed its military muscle as the country celebrated its 70th anniversary of the end of the Korean War in the presence of delegations of high-ranking officials from only two allies – Russia and China.

Observations of support vehicles near Pyongyang that could be connected to a potential missile launch, along with frequent movements of propellants from a liquid fuel factory. South Korean MPs reportedly alleged that North Korea might attempt another spy satellite launch around the end of August or early September, following the failure of their initial attempt in May. This new launch could potentially coincide with North Korea’s 75th founding anniversary celebrations on September 9, as suggested by Yoo.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who has highlighted the importance of a spy satellite among key weapons, has prioritized a second launch attempt after the failure of the first, which was deemed a significant setback.

Recent interactions between North Korea, Russia, and China suggest an acceleration in defence cooperation. Russia and North Korea are expected to enhance their defence collaboration, and South Korean intelligence is closely monitoring any potential transfer of nuclear missile technology from Russia to Pyongyang.

The United States has accused North Korea of supplying weapons to Russia for its Ukraine invasion. In response, new sanctions against three entities involved in arms deals between the two countries were announced.

Since the beginning of 2022, North Korea, under Kim’s direction, has conducted around 100 missile tests as part of its prohibited nuclear and ballistic missile programme expansion.

“Washington wants to institutionalize trilateral cooperation and wants a joint statement in which the two countries commit themselves to enhance security cooperation” Jeff Kinston from Temple University told Al Jazeera.

The closer Washington gets to Seoul and Tokyo, the closer Pyongyang, Beijing, and Moscow grow. As tensions heighten, and a more polarized world becomes evident, new friendships in the form of trilateral cooperation in security appear to be re-igniting old ones.    

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