News of the US chairwomen possible stop off at the DMZ comes as two B-1B bombers flew over the Korean peninsula in a show of US military might
Donald Trump could soon find himself confronting North Korean soldiers on the world’s most heavily armed margin, amid reports that the president is considering a visit to the demilitarised region( DMZ) during his forthcoming trip-up to South Korea.
South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said the DMZ, which has separated the two Koreas since the end of their 1950 -5 3 conflict, was among the candidate websites for Trump’s tour of Asia. He will likewise visit Japan, China, Vietnam and the Philippines.
The report coincided with another US show of aerial strength in the region.
Two supersonic B-1B bombers winged over the Korean peninsula on Wednesday night, according to the US military. Two South Korean F-1 5K fighters, along with Japanese fighters, joined the drill after the bombers took off from Andersen airbase in Guam, the statement said. It was the first time Japan and South Korea had both joined US bombers on a nighttime mixed workout, it added.
The bombers carried out air-to-ground rocket drills in water off the east coast of South Korea, then reiterated the drill over waters separating the South and China, the South Korean joint chiefs of staff said.
South Korea’s military described the exercise as a regular drill to bolster the country’s defences and demonstrate the strength of Seoul’s security alliance with Washington in the face of North Korean ballistic missile and nuclear tests.
US Air Force Major Patrick Applegate said:” Winging and training at night with our allies in a safe, effective manner is an important ability shared between the US, Japan and the Republic of Korea, and hones the tactical prowess of each nation’s aviators.
” This is a clear show of our ability to conduct seamless functionings with all of our allies anytime, anywhere .”
North Korea, however, views the drills as highly provocative, partly due to bitter remembrances of US bombing raids during the Korean war.
The White House sent a squad of working-level officials to South Korea late last month to view possible sites for inclusion in Trump’s itinerary, Yonhap said, quoting an unnamed South Korean defence source.
Trump was expected to send a strong message to North Korea, either verbally or “kinetically”, during his first trip to the peninsula as chairwoman, the source was quoted as saying. “[ He] will likely do something like that and his aides are building the relevant preparations .”
If the visit goes ahead, Trump would probably spend time at the Panmunjom truce village and an observation post inside the DMZ, the source said. The White House has not commented on the reports.
The president would be following in the footsteps of Barack Obama, who peered at North Korea through binoculars during a visit to” freedom’s frontier” in 2012, and Bill Clinton, who described the 2.5 -mile wide-ranging, 155 -mile-long strip of land as the” scariest place on world” when he visited in 1993.
In April the US vice-president, Mike Pence, employed an unannounced trip to the DMZ to declare that the” age of strategic patience with North Korea is over” as a North Korean soldier took his photograph from the other side of the demarcation line.
The land and maritime perimeters separating North and South Korea have been occasional flashpoints since the peninsula was split in two more than 60 years ago.
In 1976 two US legion officers were hacked to death with their own axes during a confrontation with North Korean soldiers in the neutral joint security area. The region is strewn with landmines and guarded by heavily armed troops, although decades of human inactivity in the area have turned it into a notable nature reserve.
In March 2010 a Northern korean torpedo sank the South Korean corvette Cheonan as it was sailing off the coast of Baengnyeong, an island just a few miles south of the border, killing 46 sailors. In November that year North Korea shelled the South Korean frontline island of Yeonpyeong, killing two soldiers and injuring civilians.
While the DMZ is a popular tourist attraction, Trump’s presence could be seen as particularly provoking by Pyongyang.
His itinerary would be likely to include a visit to the cluster of blue shacks that stand directly on the military demarcation line, and where the representatives from North Korea and the US-led UN command have traditionally gratified for negotiations.
Given that the Korean war ended with an truce and not a peace treaty, the North Korean sentries and their South Korean counterparts- who are selected for their stature and ability to carry off a particularly menacing taekwondo pose- are technically still at war.
Tourists are allowed to take photos of the soldiers on the other side but are instructed not to attempt to talk to them or gesture towards them.
The UN huts are unlikely to be used again anytime soon. In recent weeks Trump has rejected future prospects of talks with North Korea.
On Monday he again tweeted his opposition to any form of involvement:” Our country has been unsuccessfully dealing with North Korea for 25 years, dedicating billions of dollars and getting nothing. Policy didn’t work !”