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Report: Seoul not ruling out Trump visit to Korean DMZ

By Elizabeth Shim
Report: Seoul not ruling out Trump visit to Korean DMZ
U.S. President Donald Trump (R) is expected to hold a summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in (L) in Seoul at the end of June. File Photo by Jim Lo Scalzo/UPI | License Photo

May 16 (UPI) -- Speculation is rising in South Korea that U.S. President Donald Trump could visit the Korean demilitarized zone during what would be his second visit to South Korea.

Trump is expected to visit Seoul and meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in following the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, Yonhap and other local news agencies reported Thursday.

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South Korean presidential Blue House spokeswoman Ko Min-jung neither confirmed nor ruled out a potential Trump visit to the DMZ, when asked on Thursday whether a trip to the border is on the agenda.

"We still have more than a month" until the U.S.-South Korea summit, Ko told reporters. "During this period, we will discuss the details of the agenda and schedule."

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Trump previously attempted to visit the DMZ during his state visit in 2017, at the height of tensions, but the trip was canceled due to bad weather.

A Trump visit to the DMZ in June could present an opportunity for a potential trilateral summit involving him, Kim Jong Un and Moon at the border, according to South Korean news service Tongil News.

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Trump and Moon met at the White House in April, and both sides have issued muted responses to North Korea's latest tests of missiles. But the Trump administration has also confiscated a North Korean vessel suspected of exporting illicit coal to Indonesia, a move Pyongyang has condemned as "theft."

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Seoul and Washington may also need to coordinate on denuclearization objectives.

On Thursday Ko said there is "no difference" of meaning between the "denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula" and the "denuclearization of North Korea," Tongil News reported.

The White House recently stated it seeks the "final and fully verified denuclearization" of North Korea, but Ko said the White House objective and the "complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula" carry the same significance.

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Analysts have previously told UPI the two concepts are not interchangeable and could be behind North Korea's call for an end to joint exercises.

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