Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited the heavily fortified DMZ on Thursday during her trip to South Korea, another controversial stop after landing in Taiwan.
Her visit to the 155-mile-long, 2.5-mile-wide zone that separates North and South Korea made her the most senior 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 that during her stay at the border, she thanked the American military there, “who stand as sentries of democracy on the Korean peninsula.”
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol told Pelosi that her trip to the DMZ, where North and South Korean forces face-to-face, was seen as “a sign of strong deterrence between South Korea and the US against North Korea.” Korea’.
But Yoon came under fire for not meeting the speaker in person, but instead having a 40-minute phone call with her because he’s 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 given the Biden administration several headaches
Speaker Pelosi is the most senior U.S. 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 meeting
She met with South Korean National Assembly Speaker Kim Jin-pyo, and other senior parliamentarians, where she agreed to support Seoul’s efforts to denuclearize Pyongyang.
“Both sides have expressed concern about the dire situation of North Korea’s growing threat,” Pelosi and National Assembly Speaker Kim Jin-pyo said in a joint statement after a meeting in Seoul.
“We agreed to support the efforts of the two governments to achieve practical denuclearization and peace through international cooperation and diplomatic dialogue, based on the strong and comprehensive deterrence against the North.”
South Korean media speculated that Yoon did not want to meet Pelosi in person so as not to antagonize China, which remains furious over her visit to Taiwan.
North Korea also reprimanded Pelosi for visiting Taiwan. China is North Korea’s most important ally and economic partner.
A spokesman for Pyongyang’s foreign ministry said Pelosi’s trip to Taipei was an example of “brutal US interference in other countries’ internal affairs,” North Korea’s state media reported.
Such US measures, the State Department said, “are indeed the root cause of the ravaged peace and security in the region.”
North Korea has been conducting missile tests at an unprecedented pace this year, and international experts believe it is preparing 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 given President Joe Biden’s administration a series of headaches.
She was welcomed by US Ambassador to Japan, Rahm Emanuel, a former Democratic congressman from Illinois. Pelosi will hold a breakfast meeting with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Friday.
Tokyo said earlier Thursday that five Chinese ballistic missiles have landed within its exclusive economic zone as part of military exercises launched by Pelosi in response to Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.
Japan’s defense minister said he had lodged a protest with Beijing.
The island of Yonaguni, which belongs to Japan, is about 70 miles off the east coast of Taiwan, and Japan’s “economic zone” — waters in which it has special rights — occupies about half the distance between the two.
China has fired ballistic missiles at its neighbor before, but this is the first time they have landed in the Japanese zone.
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, center left, and South Korean National Assembly Speaker Kim Jin Pyo, center right, inspect a guard of honor as she arrives at the National Assembly in Seoul on Thursday
Video shows Chinese forces firing live ammunition at night during exercises near the coast of Taiwan as tensions continue to escalate
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (R) is welcomed Thursday evening by US Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel (C) upon her arrival at Yokota Air Base in Fussa, Tokyo – the final leg of her South Asia tour
Taiwan said China today fired a total of 11 ballistic missiles into waters off its southwestern and northeastern coasts, in several salvos that started around 2 p.m. local time and lasted until 4 p.m.
China remains furious over Pelosi’s stop in Taipei.
Speaking about Beijing’s exercises on Thursday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said: “I sincerely hope Beijing will not create a crisis or seek a pretext to ramp up its aggressive military activity. We countries around the world believe that escalation serves no one and can have unintended consequences that serve no one’s best interests.’
Meanwhile, officials of the Biden administration said: Bloomberg that the White House was outraged by Pelosi’s unannounced visit to Taiwan.
They said senior members of the National Security Council and State Department officials tried to dissuade her from the visit, but she refused to call off the trip that infuriated Beijing.
Biden officials accused Pelosi of using the trip as a “keystone to her career” at a time of very 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 tried to keep all lines of communication open as Pelosi continued the visit, amid several attempts to convince her to stop the incendiary journey. , were ignored.
The White House has so far declined to say whether the president has personally supported the speaker’s journey.