VP Biden in South Korea for last stop on Asia tour

JOSH LEDERMAN
December 5, 2013
View photos
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, left, and his granddaughter Finnegan Biden wave upon their arrival at Osan Air Base in Osan, South Korea, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Vice President Joe Biden traveled to South Korea Thursday on the final leg of a three-country tour of Asia that has focused on security concerns in the region.

Biden touched down at a U.S. military base south of Seoul after stops this week in China and Japan. He planned to meet Friday with South Korean President Park Geun-hye, then deliver a major speech at Yonsei University about America's Asia policy and the U.S.-Korea relationship. Before returning to Washington on Saturday, Biden will lay a wreath at a ceremony honoring fallen U.S. troops and visit the Demilitarized Zone between South Korea and North Korea.

Concerns about North Korea's nuclear program were a major topic earlier in the week when Biden met for more than five hours with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing. The two leaders strategized about how to increase pressure on the North in hopes of persuading the South Korean foe to give up its nuclear weapons, senior Obama administration officials said. These officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to comment by name.

Adding to tensions on the peninsula are U.S. concerns about an 85-year-old American tourist that Pyongyang has been detaining for more than a month. Meanwhile, South Korea's spy agency believes that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's powerful uncle may have been dismissed from his posts last month, and two of his aides publicly executed. It has not been possible to independently confirm the claim.