In South Korea, Pelosi set to visit heavily fortified DMZ

The heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone separates North and South Korea
The heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone separates North and South Korea Kim Hong-Ji POOL/AFP/File

Seoul (AFP) – After her high-profile trip to Taiwan, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was in South Korea Thursday and her agenda included a visit to the border with the nuclear-armed North, an official told AFP.

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Pelosi, who arrived in Seoul late Wednesday, will visit the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) where North and South Korean forces stand face-to-face, the South Korean official said.

She would be the highest-ranking US official to visit the inter-Korean truce village of Panmunjom since then-president Donald Trump met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un there in 2019.

Pelosi defied repeated Chinese warnings to visit Taiwan, which Beijing considers its territory and had said it would consider her trip a major provocation.

It has since announced massive military drills around the island.

China is North Korea's key ally and trade partner.

Pyongyang on Wednesday echoed Beijing's criticism of the Pelosi visit to Taiwan, describing it as "impudent interference" in China's internal affairs and blaming Washington for raising regional tensions.

South Korea is the fourth stop in Pelosi's Asia tour, following Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan.

In the capital Seoul, she met National Assembly Speaker Kim Jin-pyo and other senior members of parliament to discuss topics including regional security and economic cooperation.

Pelosi is also scheduled to speak on the phone with President Yoon Suk-yeol, who is on holiday this week, officials said.

Yoon took office in May, vowing to boost ties with the United States, including ramping up joint military drills that always infuriate North Korea.

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