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Harris Focuses Asia Trip on Security   09/27 06:13

   In meeting after meeting with Asian leaders Tuesday, Vice President Kamala 
Harris emphasized the U.S. commitment to regional security and the White House 
disclosed that she would visit the Demilitarized Zone dividing the rival Koreas.

   TOKYO (AP) -- In meeting after meeting with Asian leaders Tuesday, Vice 
President Kamala Harris emphasized the U.S. commitment to regional security and 
the White House disclosed that she would visit the Demilitarized Zone dividing 
the rival Koreas.

   An official said Harris would tour the border area between South and North 
Korea on Thursday, at the end of her trip to Asia. The visit comes amid 
persistent concerns about North Korea's missile and nuclear programs.

   North Korea test-fired a short-range ballistic missile shortly before Harris 
left Washington, an apparent response to joint military exercises between the 
United States and South Korea that include the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier 
USS Ronald Reagan.

   U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited the DMZ in August, and former 
President Donald Trump went in 2019 when he met with North Korean leader Kim 
Jong Un.

   Harris' plan, which had been kept under wraps by her team, was unexpectedly 
revealed during a meeting with South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo on 
Tuesday. A White House official rushed to confirm details of her trip afterward.

   The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Harris "will tour 
sites at the DMZ, meet with service members and receive an operational briefing 
from U.S. commanders."

   She will also "reflect on the shared sacrifice of tens of thousands of 
American and Korean soldiers who fought and died together" in the war that 
divided the peninsula seven decades ago.

   According to the White House, Harris also talked with Han about South 
Korea's complaints about the Inflation Reduction Act, which makes electric cars 
built outside of North America ineligible for government subsidies.

   "They pledged to continue to consult as the law is implemented," the White 
House said.

   Security concerns have dominated Harris' public remarks during her meetings 
in Tokyo, where she's attending the state funeral of former Prime Minister 
Shinzo Abe, who was assassinated in July.

   While sitting down with Han, Harris said the U.S. alliance with South Korea 
is the "linchpin of security and prosperity" in the region.

   "We stand with you in the face of threats," she said.

   Afterwards, Harris met with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, 
telling him their countries share a "common goal and bond as it relates to our 
dedication to peace and security."

   The conversations follow Harris' meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio 
Kishida on Monday, shortly after arriving in Tokyo.

   During that encounter, Harris described the U.S. alliance with Japan as "a 
cornerstone of what we believe is integral to peace, stability and prosperity" 
in the region.

   Like the abrupt disclosure of Harris' trip to the DMZ, the meeting with 
Kishida was also marked by confusion. His staff tried to usher reporters out of 
the room while Harris was still speaking. The commotion drowned out some of her 
remarks, making it hard for her office to finalize a transcript of her exact 
comments.

   In addition to concerns over North Korea, there's been increased tension 
involving Taiwan, the self-governing island that China views as part of its 
territory.

   President Joe Biden recently said that the U.S. would send troops to defend 
Taiwan if China attacked. Wang Yi, China's foreign minister, said Saturday that 
any attempt to prevent reunification with Taiwan would be "crushed by the 
wheels of history."

 
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