Vice President Kamala Harris will visit the Korean Demilitarized Zone that divides North and South Korea on Thursday as part of her visit to South Korea, a White House official said.
Harris’ trip will include site visits at the DMZ, meetings with service members, and an operational briefing from US commanders, the official said, reiterating the US’ commitment “to stand beside” South Korea in the face of “any threats” posed by North Korea.
Harris, the official added, “will reflect on the shared sacrifice of tens of thousands of American and Korean soldiers who fought and died together, and will reaffirm that the U.S. commitment to the ROK’s defense is ironclad.”
The DMZ is a 160-mile-long no-man’s land about 30 miles north of Seoul that was established in the 1953 Korean War Armistice Agreement. It is often described as the world’s most heavily armed border.
The news of Harris’ visit first came during a bilateral between her and South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo, according to reporters traveling with the vice president as she leads a US delegation to Japan for former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s state funeral.
“I think your visit to the DMZ and Seoul will be very symbolic demonstrations of your strong commitments to the security and peace to Korean Peninsula and we are working with you and US in dealing with North Korea,” the prime minister told Harris, according a report from the pool.
The unplanned announcement by the prime minister appeared to take reporters and White House aides by surprise. An official later confirmed the stop to reporters.
Last month, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that a congressional delegation traveled to South Korea and visited the Korean Demilitarized Zone.
Pelosi said the delegation was “honored to be hosted” at a parliamentary meeting “where we reaffirmed our commitment to the U.S.-Korea alliance” and “was pleased to engage in a phone meeting with Korea’s President Yoon Suk-yeol.”