President Moon and US President Biden (Yonhap)
WASHINGTON/SEOUL -- In a noticeable shift since his last meeting with a foreign leader, US President Joe Biden did not wear a mask during his first face-to-face with President Moon Jae-in in Washington on Friday.
Moon is only the second foreign leader to visit Biden at the White House since the US president took office in January. The first leader was Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga last month.
Whereas in meeting Suga on April 16, Biden wore a double mask as an extra precaution against COVID-19, on Friday the 78-year-old was mask-free in the first of several joint appearances with Moon at the White House.
Biden awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest military distinction, to 94-year-old retired US Army colonel Ralph Puckett in recognition of his valor during the 1950-53 Korean War.
Moon, the first foreign leader to attend such a ceremony, was also without a mask, as were most of the other 60 or so people in the room, according to a White House pool report.
People were seated close to each other without appearing to maintain a social distance.
The US has in recent days allowed people to go maskless if they have been fully vaccinated, and Friday's event was a symbolic demonstration of the country's emergence from the pandemic. (Yonhap)