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3:11 pm - Sunday November 24, 5743

Trump scraps visit to North Korean border

Agencies, Washington

Donald Trump will not visit the heavily armed border dividing the Korean peninsula during his tour of Asia next week – breaking with an American presidential tradition intended to demonstrate Washington’s commitment to its South Korean allies by standing on the North Korean frontier, The Guardian reported on Wednesday.

“The president is not going to visit the DMZ, there is not enough time in the schedule,” the official said. The Defence Secretary, James Mattis, visited the area last week and Rex Tillerson, the Secretary of State, went in March. “It’s becoming a little bit of a cliché, frankly,” the official said, according to The Guardina added.

Trump’s presence near the demarcation line that passes through the centre of the 2.5-mile wide, 155-mile-long strip of land would have carried particular significance at a time when regional tensions are high over Pyongyang’s ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programmes.

Instead, Trump will meet US military personnel and their families at Camp Humphreys, about 90km south of Seoul. The base was recently expanded and now serves as the new headquarters of the US 8th Army, the cornerstone of the US military presence in South Korea.

“No President has visited Camp Humphreys and we thought that that made more sense in terms of its messaging, in terms of the chance to address families and troops there,” the official said. He added that by going to Camp Humphreys, Trump would be demonstrating Washington’s commitment to its alliance with South Korea.

“The South Korean Government paid the vast majority of the costs for building that base and repositioning some of the US forces and their families on the peninsula,” he said.

The DMZ has kept the two countries apart since the Korean war ended 64 years ago with an armistice but not a peace treaty. It has been on every visiting president’s itinerary, with the exception of George W Bush, since Ronald Reagan went in 1983.

Posted in: World

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