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According to Seoul, Pelosi’s visit to the DMZ sends a clear message to the North

#Seoul #Pelosis #visit #DMZ #sends #clear #message #North

After her high-profile trip to Taiwan, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was in South Korea on Thursday, where a visit to the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) was on her agenda — but no meeting with the country’s president.

Pelosi, who arrived in Seoul late Wednesday, met senior parliamentary officials in the capital ahead of her scheduled trip to the border with the nuclear-armed north, where the two neighbors’ forces face each other, a South Korean official said.

She will be the senior US official to visit the Joint Security Area (JSA) and the inter-Korean truce village of Panmunjom since President Donald Trump met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un there in 2019.

But those talks fell through and North Korea has conducted a record-breaking blitz of weapons tests so far this year, including firing an ICBM at full range for the first time since 2017.

Pelosi spoke to her South Korean counterpart, National Assembly Speaker Kim Jin-pyo, about the “serious situation” and the growing threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear weapons programs.

And their trip to the DMZ is seen by President Yoon Suk-yeol as “a sign of strong South Korean-US deterrence against North Korea,” an official at his office said Thursday.

– Pelosi snub? –

Yoon, who spoke to Pelosi over the phone but did not meet her in person as he is officially on vacation this week, is facing mounting domestic criticism for his perceived snub to the second in line of the US presidency.

Local media and lawmakers from Yoon’s party have pointed out that no official delegation was dispatched to greet Pelosi, although Yoon was photographed at a play in central Seoul that same evening.

“What are we supposed to think of that? [Yoon] sees a play and meets [with the actors] but not meet the speaker of the US House of Representatives?” wrote Yoo Seung-min, a former MP for Yoon’s People’s Power party, on Facebook on Thursday.

“Speaker Pelosi is visiting the JSA today. It is undesirable to think that the leader of our ally’s parliament will visit the top of our security, but there will be no meetings between our President and her.”

Yoon took office in May and pledged to strengthen ties with the United States, including stepping up joint military exercises that always infuriate North Korea, which sees them as rehearsals for an invasion.

He had also adopted an aggressive, anti-Chinese tone during the campaign, saying he wanted to buy an additional US THAAD missile system to counter the North, despite staunch opposition from Beijing.

But critical local media reports are now speculating he may have avoided meeting Pelosi to placate China.

– Visit to Taiwan –

At a brief press conference in Seoul, where she did not answer questions, Pelosi hailed the “special” relationship between South Korea and the United States – but made no mention of her visit to Taipei.

“The US-ROK relationship is special to us,” she said, adding that the bond forged during the Korean War “of urgency and security … has become the warmest of friendships.”

Pelosi had defied repeated Chinese warnings to visit Taiwan, which China considers its territory. Beijing had said any such trip would be seen as a major provocation.

Since then it has launched massive military exercises around the island.

China is North Korea’s most important ally and trading partner.

Pyongyang on Wednesday repeated Beijing’s criticism of Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, describing it as “blatant interference” in China’s internal affairs and accusing Washington of escalating regional tensions.

South Korea is the fourth stop on Pelosis’ Asian tour, following Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan.

She is scheduled to fly to Japan later on Thursday for the final leg of her Asia tour.

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#Seoul #Pelosis #visit #DMZ #sends #clear #message #North

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