President Barack Obama may make his first visit to the demilitarized zone (DMZ) separating North and South Korea this month, according to a Fox News report citing Newscore
His appearance in the DMZ, where around 30,000 U.S. troops support the 650,000-strong South Korean Army presence, reportedly is intended to underscore the strong alliance between the two countries.
The anticipated visit, which the White House reportedly suggested, has not been confirmed officially. A spokesman for South Korea’s presidential office said the trip has not been finalized. A spokesman for the U.S. embassy said he had no knowledge of the matter.
However, the venture into the DMZ is said to be likely during the president’s visit to South Korea for the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, which begins March 26. A diplomatic source cited by South Korea’s Yonhap news agency revealed that Obama is likely to tour the DMZ before leaving March 27, according to the Newscore report.
In addition to spotlighting U.S.-South Korea relations, Obama’s DMZ visit would provide an opportunity for him to send a message to new North Korean leader Kim Jong Eun, noted a report in the Chosun Ibo newspaper that AFP cited. Kim Jong Eun assumed North Korea’s leadership following the death of his father, Kim Jong-il, in December.
A few weeks ago, the United States and North Korea announced that the North had "agreed to implement a moratorium on long-range missile launches, nuclear tests and nuclear activities at [the North's major nuclear facility] Yongbyon, including uranium enrichment activities," according to Newscore. North Korea also has allowed International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors to return to the country.
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