Reports Say Obama May Visit Korean DMZ

Posted March 12th, 2012 at 12:30 am (UTC-5)
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South Korean media say U.S. President Barack Obama is considering a visit to the tense demilitarized zone dividing North and South Korea during a scheduled visit to Seoul later this month.

The Chosun Ilbo newspaper reported Monday that details of the DMZ visit were discussed during a recent visit to Washington by South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan. South Korea's Yonhap news agency says a visit is likely on March 27, although there has been no official confirmation from the United States.

The United States has troops at Camp Bonifas, a United Nations base just outside the zone, which straddles one of the most heavily militarized borders on earth. A North Korean general said his troops were ready to “shower a fire of revenge” on U.S. forces as U.S. and South Korean forces staged an annual joint exercise earlier this month.

Mr. Obama is scheduled to be in South Korea from March 25 to 27 for a nuclear security summit that will be attended by about 50 world leaders, including Chinese President Hu Jintao. The Chosun Ilbo said U.S. and South Korean officials have been discussing what sort of message to deliver to North Korea during the visit.

Western governments are still trying to determine how North Korea's policies might be affected by the death in December of longtime ruler Kim Jong Il and the ascension of his son, Kim Jong Un.

Hopes for a resumption of international negotiations on Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programs were raised last month when the North agreed to suspend its uranium enrichment program and its nuclear and missile testing. At the same time, the United States agreed to negotiate terms for the delivery of 240,000 tons of emergency food aid.