Vice President Kamala Harris will visit the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between North Korea and South Korea on Thursday, according to multiple White House officials.
The visits was first revealed by South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo during a meeting with Harris on Tuesday.
“I think your visit to DMZ in Seoul is a real — a very symbolic demonstration of your strong commitment to the security and peace on the Korean Peninsula,” Han said. “And we are working with you and U.S. in dealing with North Korea when they actually made very public that they will be aggressive in using nuclear power. So, you know, it was very rare that some country is actually making explicit how they will use nuclear — you know, nuclear ambitions in such an explicit way.”
Han’s comment came ahead of the White House’s own plans to announce the visit. During a background press briefing later on Tuesday, a White House official said, “We typically wouldn’t announce that that far in advance for a variety of reasons. But we are obviously planning to announce that today, and we are happy to announce that. And as you saw in the statement we put out shortly after, we are prepared to announce that.
Another White House official provided more details about Harris’ planned visit, telling Axios it will “underscore the strength of the U.S.-ROK Alliance, and the United States’ commitment to stand beside the ROK in the face of any threats posed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).”
“The Vice President will tour sites at the DMZ, meet with service members, and receive an operational briefing from U.S. commanders,” the official added, according to Axios.
“We know there’s been a lot of discussions with the Koreans about extended deterrence commitments,” the official added. “And to really put those words into action, we believe it’s a powerful signal of that.”
North Korea has been antagonistic toward the United States and South Korea for years. In June, North Korea launched eight short-range missiles toward the East Sea from Sunan near the capital Pyongyang. South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol subsequently ordered a strengthened deterrence and defense posture together with the U.S. in response to North Korea’s actions.