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Inside Biden’s high-stakes Camp David summit
The president will host the leaders of South Korea and Japan at his Maryland retreat to deepen diplomatic ties in the increasingly volatile Indo-Pacific region.
CAMP DAVID CONFAB • President Joe Biden spent Thursday evening at the Camp David presidential retreat preparing for a historic summit today with President Yoon Suk Yeol of South Korea and Prime Minister Kishida Fumio of Japan.
The summit comes as the president works to strengthen diplomatic ties between the US and the two nations with a once-fraught relationship—and as his administration attempts to moderate tensions between the US and an increasingly aggressive Chinese government.
House Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) and Ranking Member Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.)—said in a statement that elevating the trilateral relationship is key to maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific and rules-based order.
“We applaud both leaders for addressing historic differences to promote our shared values, enhance prosperity, and expand our economic and defense cooperation in the Indo-Pacific to address shared challenges,” the leaders added.
President Yoon addressed a joint meeting of Congress in April, the third leader to do so before Israeli President Isaac Herzog did so last month. Prime Minister Kishida visited the US in January to meet with President Biden on a range of global issues.
The itinerary: Yoon and Kishida will be transported from the Fort McNair military base in Washington, DC where they will board Marine helicopters from President Biden’s fleet. The leaders and their delegations will be formally met by the president at Camp David later this morning.
A senior administration official said the three leaders will have substantial downtime for walking the grounds along with a series of formal engagements. The president will meet with Yoon and Kishida separately to raise specific issues with Biden and his team before the three men meet together. The two leaders will share lunch together with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.
Biden, Yoon, and Kishida will also hold a joint press conference at Camp David this afternoon.
“Camp David was chosen quite carefully,” the official said. “I think there's a recognition that that that venue is reserved for only the most important and significant such meetings.”
The deliverables: The countries will release a series of three-way statements detailing the deliverables rolled out on various topics including education, technology, diplomacy, and the military.
The senior administration official said the three leaders will commit that future leaders will meet once a year, a pact that the White House is optimistic will endure due to the bipartisan agreement on the importance of the US relationship with Tokyo and Seoul.
The leaders will also take steps to invest in technology to build what the White House describes as a three-way “hotline” for the nations to engage in moments of crisis and uncertainty.
“And all three leaders will take a pledge that we would call a ‘duty to consult’ in the event of a crisis or a set of circumstances that affects the security of any one of our countries,” the official said.
A second senior administration official clarified that the pledge is not a formal alliance and doesn’t infringe upon any one of the country’s rights to defend itself under international law. It also doesn’t affect the existing bilateral treaty commitments to US and Japan and the US South Korea.
“But what it very much is is a commitment amongst our three countries that if there is a regional contingency or a threat, we will immediately and swiftly consult with one another. We will discuss ways to share information to align our messaging and to take policy actions in tandem with one another,” the official added. “What we’re building here is a common security framework that increasingly will give our leaders and our top national security officials incentive to work closely together whenever one of us faces a challenge”
Biden’s experience as an advantage: Polling shows that President Biden’s age—80 years old now, 86 at the end of a second term if re-elected—is considered a liability by some voters.
But the first senior White House official argued the president’s experience and long political life are viewed as assets in Asia.
“His long experience, his wisdom, and his seniority are, frankly, quite well regarded in Asia. And so his ability to basically sit down and encourage and apply what I would call a kind of strategic empathy made a big difference,” they said. “And so ultimately, these decisions were taken by each of the leaders. But it was carefully, appropriately, the president weighing in behind the scenes, letting them know that if we reached sufficient and effective coordination between Japan and South Korea that indeed the president would want them to come to Camp David—and here we are.”
The China factor: It should come as no surprise that China is displeased with the summit and has issued statements effectively warning Japan and South Korea not to become too cozy with the West. And experts are closely watching if these engagements push China to further align with US adversaries like Russia and North Korea.
While the White House says the US isn’t looking to isolate China by hosting the summit, it acknowledges the criticism it may receive from others who hold a different view.
“This is about securing the ramparts of the operating system of Asia that has been so very good for all of us, in terms of raising prosperity and maintaining stability,” a senior administration official said. “What we are seeking to do is not just lock in Japan and South Korea, but lock in the United States to make clear to everyone that we are here to stay in the Indo-Pacific region.”
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IN THE KNOW
MEDIA • It’s been 108 days since the Writers Guild of America went on strike and the writers of WGA West have a message: The concentration of power between Disney, Amazon, and Netflix—companies they’ve labeled as “the new gatekeepers—offers an alarming window into the future of media.
In a report released on Thursday, the union called on lawmakers and antitrust regulators to block further consolidation in the industry, proactively investigate anti-competitive issues and outcomes, and increase regulation and oversight in streaming.
Without these reforms, the writers warn that the three media conglomerates will suppress competition, raise prices for consumers, and push down wages for creative workers.
“Writers forced to strike in this climate should come as a surprise to no one,” Laura Blum-Smith, research and public policy director for WGAW said in a statement. “For writers, [market concentration] means fewer buyers for their work, employers who exert more leverage in individual deal negotiations, and depressed pay and working conditions.”
SAG-AFTRA, a union representing around 160,000 Hollywood actors, joined 11,000 WGA members on strike last month after failing to reach a deal with the major film and TV studios.
The actors are seeking higher pay and fairer residuals when their projects are offered on streaming services, among other demands.
While on strike, SAG-AFTRA members are prohibited from working on TV shows or movies promoting completed projects.
The top two congressional Democrats—Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries—have expressed public solidarity with the actors and writers on strike. The WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers agreed to resume negotiations last Thursday. Read the full WGA West report.
POST-ROE AMERICA • New polling from Navigator Research shows that two in three Americans would vote to protect abortion rights in their state constitution if their state held a vote on the issue—including four in five Democrats and nearly three in five independents.
When broken down by race and ethnicity, support remained strong with Black, Hispanic, white, and AAPI respondents saying they would vote to protect abortion rights at the state level.
The fresh data follows the defeat of State Issue 1—a Republican-backed effort to require a supermajority to amend Ohio’s constitution ahead of a vote this November to enshrine abortion rights.
Prior to the Ohio ballot measure, initiatives to protect abortion rights passed in Kansas, Michigan, California, Vermont, Kentucky, and Montana last year. Possible initiatives could be on the ballot next year in states including Arizona, Florida, Missouri, Maryland, and New York.
The poll also found that four in five Democrats, two in three independents, and nearly half of Republicans said they believed a Republican majority in Congress and Republican Congress would pass a national abortion ban despite many GOP politicians claiming the issue is for the states to decide. Navigator Research, “Abortion: A Guide for Advocates”
HOUSING • Lord, have mercy: Mortgage rates surpassed 7 percent this week, rising to their highest level since April 2002.
“The economy continues to do better than expected and the 10-year treasury yield has moved up, causing mortgage rates to climb,” Sam Khater, chief economist for Freddie Mac, said in a statement. “Demand has been impacted by affordability headwinds, but low inventory remains the root cause of stalling home sales.”
Just a year ago, the 30-year fixed rate mortgage was 5.13 percent. Last week, rates were at 6.96 percent before spiking to 7.09 percent, a level unseen since the 7.13 percent clip recorded 21 years ago.
Rates have been above 6.5 percent since the end of May and rising since mid-July. The Federal Reserve’s aggressive strategy of raising interest rates to cool inflation has made buying a home a costly pursuit. And homeowners who purchased when rates were low are hesitant to sell. This creates a recipe for a strained housing market—one that excludes most millennials and Gen-Z Americans from owning real estate.
Many younger Americans who have been able to purchase a home did so during the three-and-a-half years student loans were paused. But with the Supreme Court overturning President Biden’s cancelation plan in June and the payment pause coming to an end in October, experts expect renters to put off buying a home even longer.
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All times Eastern
8 a.m. President Biden will get his daily intelligence briefing.
10:30 a.m. The House will meet in a pro forma session.
11 a.m. The president will welcome President Yoon Suk Yeol of South Korea and Prime Minister Kishida Fumio of Japan to Camp David.
11:15 a.m. President Biden will meet with President Yoon and Prime Minister Kishida at Camp David.
1 p.m. The Senate will meet in a pro forma session.
3 p.m. The president will hold a joint press conference with Yoon and Kishida at Camp David.
6 p.m. President Biden will travel from Camp David to Reno, Nevada, arriving at 9:30 p.m.
Vice President Kamala Harris is in Los Angeles with Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff and has no public events on her schedule.
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