Vice President Harris visits Demilitarized Zone after North Korea missile test

Pyeongtaek, South Korea (AP) — U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris is wrapping up her four-day trip to Asia, where she will stop in the heavily fortified demilitarized zone that separates the Korean peninsula, Demonstrate U.S. commitment to the security of its Asian allies.

Thursday’s visit follows a North Korean visit latest missile launch And there are fears that it might conduct a nuclear test. Visits to the demilitarized zone have become a ritual for U.S. leaders who want to show their determination to stand firm against aggression.

North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles on Wednesday, while Harris was in Japan and fired one before leaving Washington on Sunday. The launches helped this year’s missile tests reach a record level.

Harris traveled to Seoul three days after Tokyo, where she denounced North Korea’s “illegal weapons program” in a speech at a naval base about a U.S. destroyer.She Attends State Funeral of Former Japanese in Tokyo Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

In Washington, White House press secretary Karin Jean-Pierre said the latest missile test would not prevent Harris from entering the demilitarized zone, and she hoped to demonstrate the United States’ “rock-solid commitment” to regional security.

“As you know, North Korea has a history of conducting such tests,” Jean-Pierre said, adding that it was “not uncommon.”

Before stopping at the DMZ, Harris will meet South Korean President Yoon Se-yeol, who takes office in May. Despite the close alliance between the U.S. and South Korea, the relationship has been strained recently.

a new law signed President Joe Biden Preventing electric vehicles made outside North America from qualifying for subsidies from the U.S. government has eroded the competitiveness of automakers such as Seoul-based Hyundai Motor.

The South Koreans responded with betrayal, a controversy Harris acknowledged on Tuesday in a conversation with South Korean Prime Minister Han Deok-soo in Tokyo.

“They are committed to continuing consultations after the law is implemented,” the White House said of the meeting.

Gender issues are likely to intensify during Harris’ visit to South Korea. Harris, the first woman to serve as vice president of the United States, plans to hold a roundtable with female leaders on gender equality. Yin has been criticized for the lack of female representation in the government.

However, regional security concerns are likely to dominate on the final day of Harris’ trip, as they did in Japan.

North Korea’s nuclear test could come after China’s Oct. 16 Communist Party congress, but before U.S. midterm elections on Nov. 8, according to South Korean lawmakers who attended a closed-door NIA briefing.

The spy agency reiterated an earlier assessment it shared with U.S. intelligence that North Korea had repaired an underground tunnel at its nuclear test facility as part of its preparations.

North Korea has used Russia’s war on Ukraine to speed up its weapons development. It has tested dozens of weapons, including its first long-range missile since 2017, using divisions at the U.N. Security Council, where Moscow and Beijing blocked Washington’s attempt to tighten sanctions on Pyongyang.

Repeated threats of nuclear conflict have interrupted missile tests from time to time. Pyongyang’s rubber-stamp parliament has also authorized the pre-emptive use of nuclear weapons in widespread situations where its leadership is threatened.

South Korea and the United States have resumed this year large-scale joint military exercises that have been scaled back or suspended under President Donald Trump in support of his ultimately futile nuclear diplomacy with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Senior U.S. and South Korean officials met in Washington this month to discuss improving allies’ deterrence strategies, but some experts said the meeting failed to yield any new results and exposed a lack of ideas on how to deal with North Korea’s evolving threat.

Some South Koreans have expressed interest in redeploying U.S. tactical nuclear weapons after they were withdrawn from South Korea in the 1990s, and even want the country to continue its own nuclear weapons program.

Yoon said at a news conference in August that his administration had no plans to seek its own deterrent and called on North Korea to return to nuclear diplomacy, which existed in 2019 in exchange for the lifting of severe U.S.-led sanctions on North Korea Disagreement and collapse and North’s disqualification steps.

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Associated Press writers Dong-Hyung Kim and Hyung-Jin Kim contributed to this report.

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