US President Donald Trump will not visit the Demilitarized Zone, the border between the two Koreas, during his two-day state visit to South Korea due to time constraints, a US senior administration official said Tuesday. Instead, he will visit a US military base.
“The president is not going to visit the DMZ. There is not enough time in the schedule. It would have had to have been the DMZ or Camp Humphreys,” the official, who has not been named, said in a phone briefing.
There had been speculations that the US leader would travel to the tense border, which cuts the Korean Peninsula roughly in half, as President Trump said “you’ll be surprised” to journalists asking about it.
The official also said the visit to the heavily fortified border is “becoming a bit of a cliche.” Defense Secretary James Mattis, Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have each recently visited. Since President Ronald Regan, all US presidents visiting South Korea have been to the DMZ, except for one -- President George H.W. Bush.
During the state visit, President Trump will stress the importance of the Korea-US alliance and call for cooperative efforts from international leaders to press North Korea to drop its nuclear arms development, the senior official said.
President Trump’s first stop will be US military base Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, the official said.
“No president has visited Camp Humphreys and we thought that that made more sense in terms of its messaging, in terms of the chance to address families and troops there,” he explained. It would also highlight Seoul’s role in sharing the burden of the alliance, the official added.
Camp Humphreys is the US military’s latest installation in South Korea. More than 16 trillion won ($14.3 billion) has been injected into the installation so far, with South Korea shouldering more than half of the cost.
After visiting the military base here, the US leader will then move to attend the bilateral talks and a dinner meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in. It will be the third one-on-one meeting between the two leaders.
They are also expected to discuss items related to the free trade agreement, as the two sides are in the process of modifying the deal.
In the scheduled parliamentary address on the second day of the visit, President Trump is expected to mention issues surrounding North Korea, the alliance with South Korea and his policy vision for Northeast Asia.
His address will be the first since then-President Bill Clinton’s speech at the National Assembly here in 1993.
Trump’s visit is part of a tour of five Asian nations, starting from Friday to Nov. 14. Beginning with Japan, he will go on to visit South Korea, China and Vietnam, before wrapping up the tour in the Philippines to meet Association of Southeast Asian Nations leaders.
President Trump’s visit marks the first official state visit by a US leader to South Korea since 1992.
Trump will visit Camp Humphreys, but not DMZ: US official
By Jo He-rim (firstname.lastname@example.org)