Kamala Harris Visits DMZ



(Newser)

Vice President Kamala Harris capped her four-day trip to Asia with a stop Thursday at the Demilitarized Zone dividing the Korean Peninsula as she emphasized the “ironclad” US commitment to the security of its Asian allies in the face of an increasingly hostile North Korea. The visit comes on the heels of North Korea’s latest missile launches and amid concerns that the country may conduct a nuclear test, the AP reports. Visiting the DMZ has become something of a ritual for American leaders hoping to show their resolve to stand firm against aggression. North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles on Wednesday, while Harris was in Japan, and fired one before she left Washington on Sunday.

At the DMZ, Harris went to the top of a ridge, near guard towers and security cameras. She looked through bulky binoculars as a South Korean officer pointed out military installations on the southern side. Then an American officer pointed out some of the defenses along the military demarcation line, including barbed-wire fences and claymore mines. He said American soldiers regularly walk patrols along a path. “It’s so close,” Harris said. She described the North Korean missile launches as provocations meant to “destabilize the region” and said the United States and South Korea remain committed to the “complete denuclearization” of the North. “I cannot state enough that commitment of the United States to the defense of the Republic of Korea is ironclad,” she said.


“In the South, we see a thriving democracy. In the North, we see a brutal dictatorship,” Harris said before flying out of the border area on a US military helicopter. Earlier, Harris met with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol at his office in Seoul and reaffirmed the US commitment to defend the South with a full range of its military capabilities in the event of war, Yoon’s office said. Harris’ trip was organized so she could attend the state funeral of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, but her itinerary was dominated by security concerns, a reflection of fears about China’s growing power and North Korea’s ramped-up testing activity. (Read more Kamala Harris stories.)