US vice president to visit demilitarized zone on trip to South Korea

Tokio.- US Vice President Kamala Harris will take advantage of her trip to South Korea this week to visit the fortified Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that separates this country from North Korea, the White House announced Tuesday.

Harris, who is in Tokyo to attend the state funeral of slain former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, will visit the DMZ on Thursday, a White House official said.

The visit might spark anger in North Korea, which denounced House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as the “worst destroyer of international peace” when she visited the DMZ in August.

Pyongyang warned on Monday that South Korea and the United States might spark a war following they launched their first combined naval exercises in five years.

Harris’s visit to the DMZ “will highlight the United States’ commitment to standing by (South Korea) once morest any threat posed by” North Korea, the US official added.

Harris will “reflect on the shared sacrifice” of US and Korean soldiers killed in the Korean War, which ended with a ceasefire that divided the peninsula in 1953, the official added.

The vice president arrived in Japan on Monday and met with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida ahead of Abe’s funeral on Tuesday.

South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo also met with Harris in Tokyo on Tuesday, saying the visit to the DMZ will be a “highly symbolic expression of his strong commitment to peace and security on the Korean peninsula.”

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, who took office in May, has vowed to step up military exercises with the United States following years of failed diplomacy with North Korea under his predecessor’s rule.

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On Monday, the South Korean navy said the joint naval exercise “was prepared to demonstrate the firm will of the South Korean-U.S. alliance to respond to North Korean provocations.”

Pyongyang has conducted a record number of weapons tests this year.

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