U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday told reporters “we'll take a look” at visiting the Korean Demilitarized Zone during his planned five-nation Asian trip next month.
South Korean media have speculated that Trump could go to the heavily-armed DMZ, the narrow strip of land separating South and North Korea that provides a vantage point looking into the reclusive and isolated nation.
Trump did not directly answer whether such a visit – similar to the one Vice President Mike Pence made in April – would be seen as provocative by the North Koreans.
“Every American president has visited the DMZ, and President Trump should too,” says a former U.S. ambassador to South Korea and assistant secretary of state, Christopher Hill.
Hill, now dean of the Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver, tells VOA, however, “timing is also something to weigh."
Ned Price, a former National Security Council senior director and assistant to President Barack Obama agrees, adding, that “the North Koreans would interpret any visit as provocative.”
Price tells VOA what the president says or does while at the DMZ“would determine just how the North Koreans react. Any blustery language –- such as what we've seen in recent weeks -- would be hugely detrimental to the cause of a diplomatic de-escalation.”
Trump, during a five-nation trip to Asia next month, is looking to ramp up pressure against North Korea's nuclear weapons development, but also promote American economic interests in the region.
The White House said Monday that Trump's November 3-14 visit will include stops in Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines. The president is to hold talks with the heads of state at each stop.