U.S. Biden to present united front on Taiwan, official says

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WASHINGTON, April 15- U.S. President Yoshihide Suga and Japanese Prime Minister Joe Biden will present a united front on Taiwan, China's most sensitive territorial issue, on Friday, according to a senior U.S. administration official.

Biden and Suga are expected to agree on a first statement on the Chinese island but democratically ruled island at Biden's first in-person meeting with a foreign leader, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Biden and Suga will also discuss China's treatment of Muslims in the Xinjiang region and its influence over Hong Kong, while also announcing a$ 2 billion Japanese investment in 5 G telecommunications to counter Huawei Technologies.

You have seen a series of statements from both the United States and Japan on the cross-strait conditions on Taiwan, on our desire for the preservation of peace and stability, on preserving the status quo, and I expect that you will see both a formal statement and consultations on these matters, told reporters from the senior administration.

The last time US and Japanese leaders referred to Taiwan in a joint statement was in 1969, when Japan's Prime Minister said maintaining peace and security in the Taiwan area was important for its own security. It was before Beijing Normalized ties with Tokyo; the move now aims to ratchet up pressure on China.

However, such a statement seems likely to fall short of what the United States has been hoping for from Suga, who inherited a China policy that sought to balance security concerns with deep economic ties when he took over the presidency in September last. In a statement after a March meeting of Japan defense and foreign ministers, the two sides shared the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and underscored serious concerns about human rights in Hong Kong and Xinjiang.

The U.S. official said that the summit statement would follow from that nicely and that both countries, while not wanting to provoke tensions or raise tensions between China, sought to send a clear signal that Beijing's delivery of warplanes into Taiwan's airspace was incompatible with peace and stability.

Taiwan has never renounced the use of force to bring China under control.

A Japanese Foreign Ministry official said this week it had not been decided whether there would be a joint statement and two Japanese ruling party lawmakers familiar with the discussions said officials have been divided over whether Suga should endorse a strong statement on Taiwan.

The United States official said Washington expected each of our countries have slightly different perspectives and would not insist on Japan merely signing on to every dimension of our approach.

We also respect the deep economic and commercial ties between Japan and China, and Prime Minister Suga wants to walk a careful course, and we recognize that, he added.

With his first in-person summit with Biden and another planked in May with South Korea's leader, Suga is working to focus U.S. military and diplomatic resources to the Indo-Pacific and managing China's growing global power, which he sees as the critical foreign policy issue of the era.

The big issues that are played out are playing out in the western Pacific, and Afghanistan was really receiving a disproportionate amount of time and focus and attention from the senior-most leadership, said the U.S. official after Biden announced plans to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan by Sept 11.

Biden hopes to intensify joint efforts with Japan, known as the Quad, plus North Korea, to fight both China and a longtime foe, South Korea.

The official said Biden and Suga are expected to announce plans for the next Quad meeting on Friday, but they are expected to postpone them. It will require a frosty balance, given Japan and South Korea's economic ties with Japan and the delicate relations between Seoul and Tokyo.

It is painful for us, even to the point of being painful, to see relations between Japan and South Korea get below the current level, the U.S. official said.

The political tensions are such that we believe it actually inhibits all of our efforts to be effective in Northeast Asia and I think President Suga will want to discuss this in detail with Prime Minister Paria.

The relations between Tokyo and Seoul have frayed over issues related to Japan's 1940 -- 45 invasion of Korea, including that of Korean women forced to work in Japanese wartime brothels.

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