President Donald Trump is reportedly considering a trip to the demilitarized zone during his upcoming trip to South Korea, according to South Korean defense sources.
Trump is expected to send a strong message to North Korea on his first trip to Korea as commander-in-chief. “Trump will likely do something like that and his aides are making the relevant preparations,” the source told Yonhap News Agency. The White House sent an advanced team to Seoul in late September to make preparations. That team reportedly made stops at locations along the inter-Korean border, specifically Panmunjom and Observation Post Ouellette. The South Korean defense source also suggested that Trump might visit frontline islands.
Trump is scheduled to visit Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines next month. The president’s trip to the Asia Pacific comes at a time of heightened tension between Washington and Pyongyang.
North Korea has tested nearly two dozen ballistic missiles this year, including an intercontinental ballistic missile able to strike parts, if not most, of the continental U.S., and a staged thermonuclear bomb with an explosive yield significantly higher than anything the regime has previously tested. Trump has rejected the possibility of talks and stressed the need for increased pressure and perhaps the application of military force.
Vice President Mike Pence made an unannounced trip to the DMZ during his trip to South Korea, and he did so to send an intimidating message to North Korea not to challenge the U.S. or its allies.
“I thought it was important that people on the other side of the DMZ see our resolve in my face,” he revealed to The Washington Post in April, shortly after a war scare that had people convinced a conflict on the Korean Peninsula was imminent.
Former President Barack Obama made a trip to an outpost on the border in 2012.
Trump has repeatedly warned North Korea that a military option is on the table. He has informed North Korea that the U.S. will devastate North Korea if it takes its provocations too far.
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