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President Joe Biden joined with Japan and South Korea on Sunday in condemning North Korea for a string of missile launches as they put on a united front ahead of crucial talks with China and as North Korea raises the specter of a seventh nuclear test.

After their meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, the three leaders issued a statement promising a coordinated response if Pyongyang tested an atomic weapon.

But as they considered stability in the Indo-Pacific region, Biden was forced to play peacemaker as journalists jostled for position. 

Three national press pools came together for the meeting of the leaders, spelling chaotic scenes in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

‘This is conflict, look at this,’ he said before adding: ‘Gentlemen, calm down a little bit.’ 

Biden had already met separately with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol at the summit of southeast Asian leaders at the A.S.E.A.N.– before their joint meeting. 

In a statement later, they condemned North Korea’s surge in missile launches.

‘The leaders strongly condemn [North Korea’s] unprecedented number of ballistic missile launches this year, including multiple ICBM launches, as well as a flurry of conventional military action that pose a grave threat to the peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and beyond,’ they said.

Their statement also made clear that Kim Jong-un and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea would face coordinated consequences from the three nations if it went ahead with a seventh nuclear test. 

‘They reaffirm that a DPRK nuclear test would be met with a strong and resolute response from the international community,’ they said.

The leaders organized the united front as North Korea has alarmed all three nations by launching a ballistic missile over the Japanese mainland, and through a series of missile tests.

President Joe Biden was forced to ask journalists to calm down as they clashed at the start of a meeting between U.S., Japanese and South Korean leaders in Phnom Penh on Sunday

President Joe Biden was forced to ask journalists to calm down as they clashed at the start of a meeting between U.S., Japanese and South Korean leaders in Phnom Penh on Sunday

President Joe Biden is meeting with key allies at the ASEAN summit in Cambodia. He sat down for a three-way meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol. He also held a 'pull aside' meeting with Australia's Prime Minister Anthony Albanese

President Joe Biden is meeting with key allies at the ASEAN summit in Cambodia. He sat down for a three-way meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol. He also held a ‘pull aside’ meeting with Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese

Officials have raised concerns about a potential North Korean nuclear test somehow pegged to the president’s trip, which kicked off with the ASEAN meeting of southeast Asian meetings in Phnom Penh.

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said the meeting was a chance to discuss Xi.

‘It was also an opportunity for him bilaterally with each of the two leaders to be able to consult on his meeting with President Xi tomorrow and to explain to them what he intended to do in Bali, and to make sure that he was well coordinated with his closest allies,’ he said.

Earlier Biden had a brief ‘pull aside’ meeting with Australian President Anthony Albanese – another key regional ally that has raised concern about countering China’s increasingly muscular posture in the region. 

Last month North Korea launched a ballistic missile that flew over the Japanese mainland for the first time in five years. Residents were encouraged to seek shelter as it flew overhead, finally crashing into the ocean after traveling 2,850 miles. 

North Korea’s series of missile launches has alarmed experts. The Hwasong-17 ICBM that North Korea fired on November 2 appears to be part of a program to develop longer range missiles. A larger missile could reach inside the U.S mainland while carrying multiple warheads.

U.S. officials are not ruling out what would be North Korea’s seventh nuclear test. Dictator Kim Jong-un has a history of using high profile events to seek attention and gain leverage through shows of military prowess. 

Jake Sullivan told reporters en route to Cambodia the leaders would specifically discuss ‘the threats posed by North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs.’

Sullivan has specifically pointed to the prospect North Korea would conduct its seventh nuclear test ‘at some point in this broader timeframe,’ in reference to Biden’s trip.

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He cited the potential both for long-range missile tests and the possibility of a nuclear test.

He also indicated Biden would want to sound out the two close allies in advance of his meeting in Bali Monday with Chinese President Xi Jinping.   

China is North Korea’s main ally, trade partner and investor, giving Xi considerable leverage. 

Aboard Air Force One en route to a summit in Cambodia, Biden’s National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters the president would bring up the North Kore threat, but not as a demand.

Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken are meeting with key allies about North Korea

Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken are meeting with key allies about North Korea

It is the start of a multi-day Asia trip for Biden

It is the start of a multi-day Asia trip for Biden

‘He’s going to tell President Xi his perspective, which is that North Korea represents a threat not just to the United States, not just to the Republic of Korea or Japan, but to peace and stability across the entire region,’ he said on Saturday morning.

‘And if North Korea keeps going down this road, it will simply mean further enhanced American military and security presence in the region. 

‘And so the People’s Republic of China has an interest in playing a constructive role in restraining North Korea’s worst tendencies.

‘Whether they choose to do so or not as of course up to them.’

U.S. officials are also concerned about potential long-range missile tests, along with the cyber threat posed by the hermetic nation, which has been sending artillery shells to Russia amid its war on Ukraine.

‘We are in very tight coordination with both the ROK and Japan. And the trilateral meeting that the three leaders will be able to have on the margins of the East Asia Summit, I think, will be a significant milestone in the trilateral relationship and will help only strengthen coordination on DPRK.

The North Korea threat will also be top of mind when Biden sits down in Bali with Chinese President Xi Jinping. 

Experts fear North Korea is developing a 'monster' ICBM

Experts fear North Korea is developing a ‘monster’ ICBM

North Korea not only menaces U.S. allies in the region. The administration says dictator Kim Jong-un is providing arms to Russia for its war on Ukraine

North Korea not only menaces U.S. allies in the region. The administration says dictator Kim Jong-un is providing arms to Russia for its war on Ukraine

Kim has a history of making provocative moves when U.S. and allied nations gather

Kim has a history of making provocative moves when U.S. and allied nations gather

A TV screen shows a file image of North Korea's missile launch during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, Nov. 4, 2022

A TV screen shows a file image of North Korea’s missile launch during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, Nov. 4, 2022

North Korea has undertaken a series of missile launches in recent weeks. Officials aren't ruling out a seventh nuclear test by the hermetic nation

North Korea has undertaken a series of missile launches in recent weeks. Officials aren’t ruling out a seventh nuclear test by the hermetic nation

South Korea's President Yoon Suk-yeol is welcomed by Cambodian President Hun Sen, who is hosting the event

South Korea’s President Yoon Suk-yeol is welcomed by Cambodian President Hun Sen, who is hosting the event

Sullivan said Biden would press the case of China’s own self interest. ‘And if North Korea keeps going down this road, it will simply mean further enhanced American military and security presence in the region. And so the PRC has an interest in playing a constructive role in restraining North Korea’s worst tendencies. Whether they choose to do so or not is of course up to is up to them.’ 

On Russia, there have been new pushes for Ukraine and Russia to negotiate, even as Russia appears to have abandoned the city of Kherson, which it seized during its February invasion. 

‘He will be very clear on the trip, that there will be strong, enduring, unflagging, unwavering support for Ukraine in the face of Russia’s aggression,’ Sullivan said.

The lingering challenge posed by China is also a common challenge for U.Sl allies. Like South Korea and Japan, U.S. ally Australia is sending its leader,  

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