President Yoon Suk-yeol and U.S. President Joe Biden agreed in the summit on May 21 to begin discussions on restarting and expanding joint military drills between the two countries amid growing nuclear and missile threats from North Korea.
Both sides reached the agreement during their first summit in Seoul, which took place as both countries believed a nuclear test or missile launch from the North was imminent.
In a joint statement on the summit, the two leaders said, "South Korea and the U.S. agreed to initiate discussions to expand the scope and scale of combined military exercises and training on the Korean Peninsula."
President Yoon said at the joint press conference after the summit that he and Biden discussed the need to hold various forms of military exercises under the scenario of a nuclear attack from the North.
In the joint statement, Biden also reaffirmed the U.S. "extended deterrence" commitment to South Korea using the full range of U.S. defense capabilities, including nuclear, conventional and missile defense capabilities.
Related to this, Yoon and Biden agreed to reactivate the high-level Extended Deterrence Strategy and Consultation Group (EDSCG) at the earliest date," the statement said.
The EDSCG is a bilateral platform that was suspended in 2018, and reactivating it is expected to help the allies coordinate closely on deployments of U.S. strategic assets to South Korea when necessary.
They have also agreed to develop the Korea-US relationship into a global comprehensive strategic alliance, reaffirmed the shared goal of complete denuclearization of North Korea, and formalized Korea’s participation in the US-led Indo-Pacific Economic Framework during their first summit.
Meanwhile, Biden said at the press conference, "President Yoon and I committed to strengthening our close engagement and work together to take on challenges of regional security by addressing the threat posed by North Korea and by further strengthening our deterrence posture and working toward a complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."
Expressing concern over the recent COVID-19 outbreak in North Korea, Yoon and Biden offered to work with the international community to provide assistance to help North Korea fight the virus.
Biden told the press conference that the U.S. had offered vaccines to North Korea but received no response.
Yoon also said, "The door for dialogue is open. If North Korea embarks on substantial denuclearization, we will prepare an audacious plan to improve North Korea's economy and the quality of life for North Korean people in cooperation with the international community."
At the press conference, Yoon said, "With regard to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis in the North, we are willing to provide active assistance from the perspective of humanitarianism and human rights separately from political and military perspectives."
On the possibility of a meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Biden said, "It would depend on whether he was sincere and whether he was serious."
As his first stop on the three-day visit to South Korea, Biden visited a Samsung Electronics semiconductor plant in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province on May 20.
His visit to the Samsung plant demonstrated the two countries' commitment to working together to increase chip production and reinforce their supply chains in the face of growing competition from China.
Earlier, President Yoon announced South Korea's participation in the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), an initiative proposed by Biden to ensure supply chain resilience, set the rules of the digital economy, and invest in clean energy and infrastructure, among other things.
The two leaders also touched on a wide range of global and regional issues, reiterating the importance of preserving peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, and expressing solidarity with the international community in condemning Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Biden also told the press conference it is "critically important" to have a close trilateral relationship with South Korea and Japan, both economically and militarily, and that he will address the issue when he visits Japan on the next leg of his tour.
The U.S. president will leave for Japan on May 22 after visiting a key Air Force operations center at Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek together with Yoon.