President Joe Biden will host a trilateral summit starting Friday with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol at Camp David, which is expected to showcase deepening security and economic cooperation.

Holding the meeting at Camp David shows how important this meeting is and is seen as a turning point by the administration as the countries try to strengthen diplomatic efforts. The White House hopes this meeting will help ease past tensions between the two nations, both seen as key allies of the U.S.

“These are two countries that the president has put high up on the priority list,” said National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby. “More critically, he knows how important a safe, stable, and prosperous Indo-Pacific is to our national security interests to the American people.”

Japan and South Korea historically have had a challenging relationship, but recently have seen tensions thaw and deepen amid a changing security landscape.

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Senior administration officials describe the administration’s support for rapprochement between the two countries, noting some “starts and stops along the way.” Biden has reminded leaders of the stakes and wants to build a “durable partnership.”

“The summit is the direct result of courageous leadership from the from the prime minister of Japan and also the president of ROK, who have seized the moment and helped usher in a new era for their countries,” said White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.

Officials have commended Kishida and Yoon’s leadership and diplomacy, noting the risks they were willing to take and wanting to see continued efforts to improve their bilateral relations.

“The United States has always wanted to build this trilateral partnership with the South. It’s two important allies in Asia. But that has been really difficult because of the historical and territorial disputes between these two countries over the several past decades,” said Ellen Kim, deputy director of the Korea Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “This began to change all of this year when there was a major breakthrough in Korea-Japan bilateral relationship, when the South Korean president made a bold move to resolve the forced labor issues.”

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A summit between the countries earlier this year marked a turning point, according to Kim.

The deepening ties come as the countries have faced more provocation from North Korea, challenges from China, and tensions in the Taiwan Strait.

The day before the summit, a South Korean lawmaker said there were signs North Korea was preparing for an ICBM test and an attempt at a satellite launch.

“I believe that it is very significant for the leaders of the three countries to meet together at this time when the security environment surrounding our country is becoming more and more severe,” said Kishida.

U.S. officials maintain the summit is not about countering China but acknowledge common challenges from the PRC, the DPRK’s missile launches, and tensions in the Taiwan Strait.

“You’ll see that all three of us are taking a similar view to those threats and challenges to make sure that we are all improving our ability to defend our own national security interests,” said Kirby.

The summit is expected to bring a series of initiatives on security, technology, the economy, and diplomacy.

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Officials describe creating a common security framework and their commitment to consult. The leaders are expected to commit to future annual meetings, invest in technology for a trilateral hotline for moments of crisis, and take a duty to consult pledge as they “lock in” the trilateral engagement, according to senior administration officials.

“I think that all the people in the three countries are finding ways to, you know, build a relationship, build a resilience, and also enhance the connectivity among three countries, in a way that these institutionalized three way cooperation cannot be, you know, reversed. Even if there is a change in political situation [in] any of these three countries,” said Kim.

“The president’s convinced that because we put so much energy into this over the last two and a half years, and because these initiatives that we’re gonna be talking about tomorrow are so deep, that sustainability is not going to be a problem that the American people, the South Korean people, the Japanese people all can see, even if they might have political differences, they can all see the value in having a stronger, deeper set of cooperation between our three countries, and that’s good for their security, it’s good for their prosperity. It’s good, frankly, for the whole region,” said Kirby.

The efforts reflect Biden’s broader effort to strengthen alliances and focus on relations in the Indo-Pacific. The summit will mark the Biden administration’s first foreign leaders summit at the presidential retreat and the first visit of a foreign leader since 2015.

The retreat in Frederick County, Maryland, has historically hosted significant high-level meetings. Prime Minister Winston Churchill first visited in 1943, according to the White House. Camp David hosted a summit between Egypt and Israel in 1978. In hopes of forming a peace agreement, President Bill Clinton welcomed Israeli and Palestinian leaders in 2000.

President Barack Obama hosted G8 leaders in 2012.

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