White House: Trump unlikely to go to DMZ in Korea
NEW YORK—US President Donald Trump plans to use his 12-day, five-nation Asia trip to encourage a tougher stance against the threat posed by North Korea, but he likely will not make the traditional presidential visit to the border between North and South Korea known as the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).
The White House on Monday said Trump was invited by Korean President Moon Jae-in to visit Camp Humphreys, a military base about 64 kilometers south of Seoul, and that time constraints would likely not permit Trump to also travel to the border.
In briefing reporters, the White House played down suggestions that the decision stemmed from security concerns and suggested that plans could still change.
If Trump doesn’t go, he would be breaking from recent presidential custom.
All presidents but one since Ronald Reagan made the visit to the heavily fortified DMZ, which has separated the North and South for 64 years.
Often wearing bomber-style jackets and flanked by military officers, presidents have used binoculars to peer at the barren strip of land at the 38th Parallel and delivered forceful remarks denouncing the threat posed by the rogue regime led by Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang.
Vice President Mike Pence visited the DMZ in April so the North Koreans could “see our resolve in my face.”
Trump has frequently turned to bellicose rhetoric to denounce Kim, whom he has given the mocking nickname “Little Rocket Man” and has threatened to unleash “fire and fury” on North Korea if it does not abandon its nuclear weapons ambitions.
The inflammatory language has done little to deter the North Korean dictator, who has repeatedly launched missile tests, including some that have flown over Japan.
Beyond dealing with the dangers posed by Pyongyang, Trump will spend much of the trip advocating for American economic interests in the region, including in meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Trump has long bemoaned the US trade deficit with China, a country he has called a “currency manipulator,” though he has signaled that he would soften his stance toward the continent’s growing economic power if it would step up its efforts at containing North Korea.
The White House outlined a robust schedule for Trump’s trip, the longest of his presidency and first to Asia, which begins on Nov. 3.