The United States and South Korea offered, on Saturday, May 21, their aid to North Korea to fight the Covid-19 epidemic which is raging there. “Both leaders express concern over the recent Covid-19 outbreak” in North Korea and “stand ready to work with the international community to provide assistance” to Pyongyang, according to a joint statement issued after a meeting. summit in Seoul between the American presidents, Joe Biden, and South Korean, Yoon Seok-yool.

“We have offered vaccines, not just to North Korea, but also to China, and we are ready to do that immediately,” Biden said at a press conference in Seoul. “We didn’t get a response,” he added.

North Korea, whose population is not vaccinated against Covid-19, is currently facing an epidemic outbreak, with nearly 2.6 million cases and 66 deaths, according to the latest official figures released on Saturday.

Acceleration of weapons testing

The way in which this health crisis will influence the military decisions of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, is the great unknown that Americans and South Koreans are trying to clarify. In a joint statement released after the summit, the two presidents said:

“In view of the evolving threat posed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the two leaders agree to initiate discussions with a view to expanding the scope and scale of joint military exercises and training in and around of the Korean Peninsula. »

The statement comes as South Korean intelligence has warned that North Korea has completed preparations for a nuclear test, which would be the seventh in its history and the first in five years.

Whether or not to carry out a nuclear test will be key in setting the course for US-South Korean relations during President Yoon’s five-year term, former CIA analyst Soo Kim told Agence France-Presse. .

“If Kim conducts a trial run during Biden’s visit, it will actually help both countries find a greater rationale for working together on the North Korea issue,” she said.

North Korea has ramped up its weapons testing since the start of the year. Talks to disarm him have stalled since a failed summit in 2019 between Kim Jong-un and then-US President Donald Trump.