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Biden will host Japan's Prime Minister Kishida in April to strengthen Indo-Pacific alliances

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden will host Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida for a state visit on April 10, with the goal of strengthening a critical alliance as the United States has sought to counter China's influence in the Indo-Pacific region.

John Kirby, the White House national security spokesman, told reporters aboard Air Force One that the visit will include a formal state dinner.

As president, Biden has visited Japan twice, most recently going to the city of Hiroshima last May for the Group of 7 summit among major industrialized nations. Kishida's visit comes as the federal government is reviewing the national security implications of Japan's Nippon Steel plans to acquire the Pittsburgh-based company U.S. Steel for roughly $14.1 billion.

Kirby declined to say whether the government's review of that potential merger would be a subject at the state visit. He said that Biden and Kishida will likely discuss a range of issues in Asia, including how to improve cooperation with South Korea.

"I think you can expect to see a robust discussion about how we’re deepening our bilateral cooperation with Japan, improving our alliance capabilities across the board," Kirby said. “There will be a lot to discuss.”