SEOUL — US Vice President Kamala Harris is set to condemn North Korea’s weapons tests in Seoul ahead of her first visit to the demilitarized zone (DMZ) separating the Koreas on Thursday, just hours after the country was isolated tested missiles.
Harris spoke with South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol in Seoul, where she was to discuss North Korea’s latest missile launch as well as China’s actions in the Taiwan Strait, an official said. the White House.
She will also discuss Seoul’s concerns over changes in US electric vehicle subsidies and trilateral relations involving Japan, the official said.
Harris touted the alliance as a “kingpin” of security and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula and the Indo-Pacific, and expressed hope for further strengthening ties.
“I’m here to strengthen the strength of our alliance and strengthen our work together,” she told Yoon as they started their meeting.
Yoon also vowed to strengthen the alliance, saying Harris’ visit following US President Joe Biden’s May trip will be “another turning point” in achieving that goal.
Aides said Harris’ visit to the DMZ was meant to show the United States’ unwavering commitment to South Korea’s security, but took on new urgency after the two short-range ballistic missiles were fired at the off the east coast of North Korea on Wednesday.
Biden’s aides have strengthened alliances to manage China in the region, including in Taiwan. But South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol told CNN in an interview broadcast on Sunday that in a conflict over Taiwan, North Korea would be more likely to stage a provocation and that the alliance should focus first. on this concern.
The missile test is the second since Sunday and comes two days after South Korean and US forces conducted a military exercise in waters off South Korea’s east coast involving an aircraft carrier.
The South Korean and Japanese navies announced on Friday that they would hold trilateral anti-submarine exercises with US forces, aimed at improving their ability to counter evolving North Korean threats, including its ballistic missiles launched by submarines.
The drills will bring together warships including the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, the guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville, the guided-missile destroyer USS Barry, the South Korean destroyer Munmu the Great and the Japanese tanker Asahi.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has said he is developing nuclear weapons and missiles to defend against US threats.
After a stopover at a military base in Japan, Harris called the recent missile launches “an illicit weapons program that threatens regional stability and violates multiple UN Security Council resolutions.”
Harris met separately with a group of South Korean female leaders, including Choi Soo-yeon, CEO of internet service provider Naver Corp (035420.KS); Youn Yuh-jung, an actress who won an Oscar for her role in “Minari”; Kim Yuna, Olympic figure skating champion; and the famous novelist Kim Sagwa.
A White House official said women had “made strides in building a more inclusive and equitable society,” and the session was intended to demonstrate the importance the Biden administration placed on gender equity. the sexes.
Harris’ visit to the DMZ is the first by a senior Biden administration official and is expected to take place later Thursday.
Several former US presidents, and Biden himself before becoming president, have visited the DMZ, but former President Donald Trump became the first to meet a North Korean leader there when he held a third meeting with Kim Jong. One in 2019 as part of his failed effort to persuade Kim to give up his nuclear and missile programs.
The DMZ is often described as the world’s last Cold War frontier and has existed since the Korean War of 1950-1953 ended in an armistice rather than a peace treaty.
New York Post