Nancy Pelosi stares down North Korea with visit to the DMZ – as China keeps firing missile into Japan’s exclusion zone and White House ‘fumes’ over controversial Taiwan visit
- Pelosi visited the heavily-fortified DMZ during her trip to South Korea
- She was the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit the area since President Donald Trump met North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un there in 2019
- The 155-mile-long, 2.5-mile-wide zone separates North and South Korea
- South Korean president Yoon Suk-yeol told Pelosi her trip to the DMZ was ‘a sign of strong deterrence between South Korea and the US against North Korea’
- Pelosi now in Japan – her last stop on her South Asia tour
- Tokyo said five Chinese missiles landed within its exclusive economic zone
- It was part of military exercises launched by Beijing in response to Pelosi’s Taiwan visit, which China is still angry about
- White House officials said to be fuming over Pelosi’s Taiwan trip
Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited the heavily-fortified DMZ during her trip to South Korea on Thursday, another controversial stop after her touchdown in Taiwan.
Her visit to the 155-mile-long, 2.5-mile-wide zone separating North and South Korea made her the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit the area since President Donald Trump met North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un there in 2019.
Pelosi confirmed the visit by posting photos to her social media accounts and issuing a press release. She said, during her time on the border, she thanked the U.S. service members there, ‘who stand as sentinels of Democracy on the Korean peninsula.’
South Korean president Yoon Suk-yeol told Pelosi her trip to the DMZ, where North and South Korean forces stand face-to-face, was seen as ‘a sign of strong deterrence between South Korea and the US against North Korea.’
But Yoon came under fire for not meeting face-to-face with speaker, instead holding a 40-minute phone call with her because he is on summer vacation.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her congressional delegation visited the heavily-fortified DMZ during their trip to South Korea
Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she agreed to support Seoul’s efforts to denuclearize Pyongyang
Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to South Asia has caused several headaches for the Biden administration
Speaker Pelosi is highest-ranking US official to visit DMZ since then-president Donald Trump met North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un there in 2019. Trump and Kim Jong-Un are pictured during their meeting
She did meet with South Korean National Assembly Speaker Kim Jin-pyo and other senior members of parliament, where she agreed to support Seoul’s efforts to denuclearize Pyongyang.
‘Both sides expressed concerns about the dire situation of North Korea’s growing threat,’ Pelosi and National Assembly Speaker Kim Jin-pyo said in a joint statement after meeting in Seoul.
‘We agreed to support the efforts of the two governments to achieve practical denuclearisation and peace through international cooperation and diplomatic dialogue, based on the strong and extended deterrence against the North.’
South Korean media speculated that Yoon didn’t want to meet Pelosi in person to avoid antagonising China, which remains furious over her visit to Taiwan.
North Korea also slammed Pelosi for visiting Taiwan. China is North Korea’s main ally and economic partner.
A spokesperson for Pyongyang’s foreign ministry said Pelosi’s trip to Taipei was an example of ‘impudent interference of the U.S. in internal affairs of other countries,’ North Korea’s state media reported.
Such U.S. moves, the foreign ministry said ‘are, indeed, the root cause of harassed peace and security in the region.’
North Korea has conducted missile tests at an unprecedented pace this year and international experts believe it is readying its seventh nuclear test, the first since 2017.
Meanwhile, Speaker Pelosi landed in Japan late Thursday night, the final stop of her South Asia tour, which has caused a series of headaches for President Joe Biden’s administration.
She was welcomed by U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel, a former Democratic congressman from Illinois. Pelosi is scheduled to hold a breakfast meeting with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Friday.
Tokyo said earlier Thursday that five Chinese ballistic missiles landed within its exclusive economic zone, part of military exercises launched by Beijing in response to Pelosi’s Taiwan visit.
Japan’s defence minister said he had lodged a protest with Beijing.
The island of Yonaguni, which belongs to Japan, sits around 70 miles off Taiwan’s eastern coast and Japan’s ‘economic zone’ – waters in which it has special rights – covers about half the distance between the two.
China has fired ballistic missiles at its neighbour before, but this is the first time they have landed in the Japanese zone.
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, front, center left, and South Korean National Assembly Speaker Kim Jin Pyo, center right, inspect an honor guard upon her arrival at the National Assembly in Seoul on Thursday
Video shows Chinese military forces firing live ammunition in drills near to the coast of Taiwan overnight as tensions continue to escalate
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (R) is welcomed by US Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel (C) upon her arrival at Yokota Air Base in Fussa, Tokyo on Thursday evening – the last leg of her South Asia tour
Taiwan said China fired a total of 11 ballistic missiles into waters off its south-western and north-eastern coasts today, in several salvos that began around 2pm local time and lasted until 4pm.
China remains furious about Pelosi’s stop in Taipei.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken addressed Bejing’s drills Thursday saying: ‘I hope very much that Beijing will not manufacture a crisis or seek a pretext to increase its aggressive military activity. We countries around the world believe that escalation serves no one and could have unintended consequences that serve no one’s interests.’
Meanwhile, Biden administration officials told Bloomberg that the White House was fuming over Pelosi’s unannounced visit to Taiwan.
They said senior members of the National Security Council and State Department officials tried to discourage her from the visit but she refused to call off the trip which enraged Beijing.
Biden officials accused Pelosi of using the trip as a ‘capstone for her career’ at a moment of highly delicate relations with Beijing, according to Bloomberg.
US ambassador to China Nicholas Burns said the Biden administration wanted to avoid any escalation of tensions with Beijing and scrambled to keep all lines of communication open as Pelosi pressed on with the visit, while various attempts at persuading her to abandon the incendiary trip were ignored.
The White House has thus far declined to say whether the president personally supported the speaker’s trip.
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