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Asia Minute

Asia Minute: Quiet U.S. Diplomacy in Asia May Get Louder

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Evan Vucci
/
Associated Press
President Joe Biden speaks in the East Room of the White House, May 10, 2021, in Washington.

This has been a busy week for U.S. diplomacy in the Asia Pacific, but most of the activity has been away from the headlines.

North Korea has been quietly moving up the U.S. agenda this week.

The heads of national intelligence from the United States, Japan and South Korea met behind closed doors in Tokyo Wednesday.

U.S. Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines followed that up with a trip to South Korea.

Next week, South Korean President Moon Jae-in comes to Washington for President Biden’s second in-person summit meeting, following last month’s visit by Japan’s Prime Minister.

But this flurry of diplomatic activity is not just about North Korea.

The Biden Administration is trying to put together a unified front in dealing with China, and its ideal scenario would include improved relations between Tokyo and Seoul.

In recent months, there have been several high-level meetings involving top officials from all three countries—on the U.S. side those have included the Secretary of State and the National Security Adviser.

And there’s news this week that another political player will be joining that effort.

The Financial Times was the first to report that one-time White House Chief of Staff and former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel will be Washington’s next ambassador to Japan.

It hasn’t yet been officially announced, but it’s been front page news this week in Asia.

In a long political career, Emmanuel has been known more for his role as a blunt-spoken insider than as a diplomat.

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