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U.S. President considering Korea DMZ visit when traveling to Asia this month

By Trevor Hunnicutt
FILE PHOTO: North and South Korean guard posts are seen near the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, in Paju, South Korea, April 25, 2022. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

U.S. President Joe Biden is considering a trip to the Korean Demilitarized Zone when he visits Asia later this month, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Thursday.

Biden is expected to visit South Korea and Japan from May 20-24 and hold talks with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts.

Psaki said the White House was still finalizing details of the Asia schedule but a trip to the heavily fortified DMZ separating the two Koreas is a step that is taken by many who visit the region.

Several former U.S. presidents, and Biden himself before he became president, have visited the DMZ, but former President Donald Trump became the first to have met a North Korean leader there when he held a third meeting with Kim Jong Un in June 2019 as part of his unsuccessful effort to persuade him to give up his nuclear and missile programs.

The DMZ is often described as the world's last Cold War frontier and has existed since the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a armistice rather than a peace treaty.

Psaki repeated a U.S. assessment that North Korea could be ready to conduct a seventh nuclear test as early as this month. North Korea has not tested a nuclear bomb since 2017, but resumed testing of intercontinental ballistic missiles this year.

"We shared this information with allies and partners and are closely coordinating with them," Psaki said.

North Korea has recently stepped up weapons tests and resumed intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launches this year for the first time since 2017.

U.S. and South Korean officials have been saying for weeks that there are signs of new construction at Punggye-ri, North Korea's only known nuclear test site, and that Pyongyang could soon test another bomb.

North Korea fired three ballistic missiles towards the sea off its east coast on Thursday, South Korea and Japan said, in its latest tests aimed at advancing its weapons programs, even as it reported a COVID-19 outbreak for the first time.

In condemning the latest launch, the U.S. State Department said it remained committed to a diplomatic approach with North Korea and reiterated a call for Pyongyang to return to dialogue.

(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt, David Brunnstrom and Jarrett Renshaw; Editing by Chris Reese, Mark Porter and Sandra Maler)

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Dive Deeper:
N. Korea reports COVID cases, fires 3 ballistic missile tests
North Korea fired three ballistic missiles towards the sea off its east coast on Thursday, South Korea and Japan said,…
North Korea fires ballistic missiles ahead of Biden’s Visit
North Korea fired three short-range ballistic missiles from an area near Pyongyang toward waters off its east coast, South Korea…
North Korea fires ballistic missile in second test launch in a week
The Japanese Coast Guard and the South Korean Military have said that a ballistic missile was fired off the east…
North Korea fires missiles after Covid cases prompt Kim to order lockdown
Seoul (AFP) - North Korea confirmed its first-ever Covid-19 cases Thursday and declared a "serious emergency", with leader Kim Jong…
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
N Korea fires ballistic missiles in 16th weapons test in 2022
North Korea also announced this week its first-ever cases of COVID-19.
Kim Jong-un tests new missile - just how dangerous is the situation in North Korea?
Kim Jong-un tested North Korea’s weapons just days before South Korea inaugurated a new president, raising concerns in the international…
Get all your news in one place