Administration

Harris ends Asia trip with DMZ visit, stresses ‘ironclad’ commitment to South Korea

Kamala Harris
AP/Leah Millis, pool
Vice President Kamala Harris talks to the media at Yokosuka Naval Base, in Yokosuka, near Tokyo, Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022. Harris and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will host Treasury’s annual Freedman’s Bank Forum, October 6. (Leah Millis/Pool Photo via AP, File)

Vice President Harris on Thursday visited the Demilitarized Zone as part of her trip to South Korea, hours before South Korea’s military reported that North Korea fired another ballistic missile.

Harris’ visit was the last stop on her four-day trip to Asia and she stressed the ironclad commitment the U.S. has to South Korea.

“Here you see at the DMZ, U.S. soldiers serving shoulder to shoulder with soldiers from the Republic of Korea,” she said with visiting the heavily guarded area dividing the Korean Peninsula.

“They are training together they are committed to working in solidarity around a shared purpose and goal, which is to maintain the security and the stability of this region of the world. I cannot state enough that commitment of the United States to the defense of the Republic of Korea is ironclad,” she added.

North Korea’s launch on Thursday was the third round of missile tests by the country this week, following two ballistic missiles test-fired on Wednesday right before Harris arrived in South Korea. They started tests on Sunday, before Harris left for her trip.

“It is clearly a provocation, and it is meant we believe to destabilize the region and we’re taking it seriously, and everyone should,” Harris said when asked about North Korea’s nuclear threats.

“And that is one of the reasons why the visit that I have made to Korea, to the Republic of Korea is important because it is a statement about the strength of our alliance and our dedication, the United States’ dedication, to this alliance both in terms of security, American stability for the region and for the Indo-pacific as a whole,” she added.

In later remarks, Harris said she spoke to President Biden about threats from North Korea earlier on Thursday.

“The DPRK has the ballistic missile launch program, apparently, including just yesterday and are destabilizing the peace and security of this region. Our shared goal, the United States and the Republic of Korea is a complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” she added.

Harris used binoculars to look toward North Korea as she was briefed on the area, including how communication happens between both sides at the DMZ.

She asked briefers on the ground a few questions, including what is the process for preparing for high level talks and the average delayed response from the other side. She was told some responses on routine items take as little as 30 minutes.

She was also told about the two villages that fall within the DMZ. The vice president asked for the population of the villages and when the briefer responded, she laughed and said, “When’s the last time you took a census? Babies get born, things change.”

“This is historic,” she said as she left. “We’ve stepped into history.”

Tags DMZ Kamala Harris North Korea South Korea

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