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Wednesday 22 November 2017

Donald Trump to skip visit to Demilitarised Zone during Korea leg of Asia trip

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits a cosmetics factory in Pyongyang, North Korea. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits a cosmetics factory in Pyongyang, North Korea. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

President Donald Trump will not visit the heavily fortified border between North and South Korea known as the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) during his upcoming trip to Asia, the White House has said.

A senior administration official told reporters during a White House background briefing that there was not enough time in the president's schedule to accommodate a visit.

The president will be visiting Camp Humphreys, a military base about 40 miles south of Seoul, to highlight the US-South Korean partnership instead.

Every president but one since Ronald Reagan has visited the DMZ, which has separated the North and South for 64 years.

Mr Trump has clashed with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un whom he has dubbed Rocket Man during forays on Twitter and also in a speech at the UN general assembly.

The White House has played down the notion that the hesitance to visit the DMZ stemmed from security concerns, although experts on the region say a visit could have further inflamed tensions.

Mr Trump will depart on Friday for a trip that will take him to Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines.

He will attend several summits, hold a series of meetings, be feted at banquets and spend time golfing with Japanese president Shinzo Abe.

Mr Trump will meet for the first time with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who has been accused of human rights abuses, including killing suspected drug dealers.

The White House has said that Mr Trump could raise concerns about the program.

But the official said on Tuesday that Mr Trump and Mr Duterte shared a warm rapport during a telephone conversation.

The White House said president Trump spoke with Abe by phone on Monday to discuss the trip.

They also discussed the importance of promoting a "free and open Indo-Pacific region," maintaining close ties, and maximising pressure on North Korea.

Press Association

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