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Yoon arrives in New York for UN General Assembly

President Yoon Suk-yeol (R) and first lady Kim Keon-hee board the presidential plane at London Stansted Airport on Monday, to depart for New York. (Yonhap)
President Yoon Suk-yeol (R) and first lady Kim Keon-hee board the presidential plane at London Stansted Airport on Monday, to depart for New York. (Yonhap)

NEW YORK -- South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol arrived in New York on Monday to attend the UN General Assembly and hold a series of summits on the sidelines, including a highly anticipated meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

The New York visit, the second stop on Yoon's three-nation swing, follows his attendance at Queen Elizabeth II's state funeral in London and comes ahead of a summit with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa.

Yoon will stay in the city for four days and deliver his first address to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday before engaging in bilateral meetings with US President Joe Biden, Kishida and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, among others.

Yoon will make his debut on the UN stage with a speech outlining his vision for increasing solidarity among freedom-loving nations, according to his office. The speech will also likely underscore South Korea's commitment to defending peace against the threat of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, together with allies such as the United States.

The meeting with the Japanese prime minister will be the first summit between the two nations since December 2019, raising hope of improving relations badly frayed over wartime forced labor and other issues related to Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

Details of the meeting, including the date and agenda, have not been confirmed, but South Korean officials maintain it will go ahead as agreed upon. Japan, meanwhile, has expressed reservations about holding a summit before progress is made on the issue of compensation for Korean forced labor victims, according to Japanese news reports.

Yoon and Kishida met during the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit in Madrid in June, including in trilateral talks with Biden, but did not sit down for one-on-one talks.

The meeting with Biden will be Yoon's second since taking office in May, following their summit in Seoul that month.

The two are expected to discuss the implementation of agreements reached during the May summit but also address South Korea's concerns about the recently passed US Inflation Reduction Act.

The law excludes electric vehicles assembled outside North America from tax incentives, raising concerns it will act as a significant trade barrier for Korean-made cars.

Yoon's itinerary also includes a meeting with Korean residents on Tuesday, various sessions with academics, scientists and businesspeople, and a reception hosted by Biden at the American Museum of Natural History on Wednesday.

The president is being accompanied by first lady Kim Keon-hee. (Yonhap)