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Vice President Kamala Harris visits DMZ after North Korean missile launch


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Vice President Kamala Harris is heading to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) dividing the Korean Peninsula on Thursday at the end of the Vice President’s trip to Asia.

The heavily fortified buffer zone, which separates North and South Korea, is Harris’ last stop on the diplomatic journey. The gesture of visiting the DMZ is designed to illustrate America’s “unwavering commitment” to regional security, according to White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.

The vice president is expected to discuss North Korea’s nuclear threats and Washington’s commitment to help South Korea with defense measures. Shortly before the DMZ visit, Harris met with South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and hailed the U.S.-South Korea alliance as a “pivot of security and prosperity.”

Vice President Kamala Harris shakes hands with South Korean President Yoon Suk-Yeol before their bilateral meeting in Seoul on September 29, 2022.
(LEAH MILLIS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

She and Yoon also discussed South Korea’s economic and technological partnerships with the United States earlier Thursday, in addition to a panel discussion on gender equity.

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The visit comes a day after North Korea fired a third ballistic missile into the sea in an act of provocation by Kim Jong-Un. The country has already fired two short-range ballistic missiles during Harris’ time in Japan.

North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles into waters off its east coast, raising tensions a day before Vice President Kamala Harris' visit to the demilitarized zone that divides the two Koreas.

North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles into waters off its east coast, raising tensions a day before Vice President Kamala Harris’ visit to the demilitarized zone that divides the two Koreas.
(Seong Joon Cho/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

North Korea also made a similar move in June, firing three missiles ahead of President Biden’s visit to Seoul that month.

Harris condemned North Korea’s “illicit weapons program” during a speech Wednesday at United States Fleet Activities Yokosuka, a US naval base.

Jean-Pierre said North Korea’s missile test was “not unusual” on Wednesday, but said it would not deter Harris from going to the DMZ.

“As you know, North Korea is used to doing these kinds of tests,” she said.

Vice President Kamala Harris holds a bilateral meeting with South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo in Tokyo on September 27, 2022.

Vice President Kamala Harris holds a bilateral meeting with South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo in Tokyo on September 27, 2022.
(Getty Images)

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South Korean activists were seen protesting Harris’ visit near the presidential office in Seoul on Thursday. Protesters wore masks showing the faces of Harris and President Yoon as they demonstrated against the US-South Korea alliance.

Activists wear masks showing the faces of Vice President Kamala Harris and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol during a protest against Harris' visit and the South Korea-US alliance, near the presidential office in Seoul on September 29, 2022.

Activists wear masks showing the faces of Vice President Kamala Harris and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol during a protest against Harris’ visit and the South Korea-US alliance, near the presidential office in Seoul on September 29, 2022.
(ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP via Getty Images)

Harris’ visit has also drawn criticism from Republicans who say she overlooked the migrant crisis at the US-Mexico border.

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After the DMZ tour, Harris will depart Osan Air Force Base and return to Joint Base Andrews in Maryland.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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