U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was scheduled to visit the DMZ on Thursday, a trip South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol said would be a sign of deterrence against North Korea. Photo by Thomas Maresca/UPI | License Photo
SEOUL, Aug. 4 (UPI) -- U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi continued her Asia tour in Seoul on Thursday in a visit that South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol said would be a "sign of deterrence" against nuclear-armed North Korea.
Pelosi and a congressional delegation arrived Wednesday night in South Korea after a stop in Taiwan that sent shockwaves around the region as a furious China launched ballistic missiles and flew warplanes near the island in response.
In Seoul, Pelosi met with her South Korean counterpart, National Assembly Speaker Kim Jin-pyo on Thursday morning.
The two held a brief press conference afterwards, in which Pelosi said her delegation's visit centered around the "pillars of security, economics and governance."
"In all three of those areas, the U.S.-South Korea relationship is very strong," she said.
In a joint press statement released by Kim's office, the two speakers expressed concern about the "grave situation" of North Korea's growing nuclear threat and called for the secretive regime to give up its arsenal.
"Based on the strong and extended deterrence against North Korea that the South Korean public can feel, we are committed to achieving practical denuclearization and the establishment of peace through international cooperation and diplomatic dialogue," the statement said.
Pelosi later spoke with South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol on a call, his office announced.
Yoon is on vacation this week, and no face-to-face meeting had been planned, but speculation in local media and among some politicians suggested that the president was shunning Pelosi out of fear of angering China.
Pelosi was scheduled to visit the truce village of Panmunjom in the DMZ later Thursday, a trip that Yoon said would highlight the strengthened military ties between Seoul and Washington.
"This visit by Pelosi's delegation will become a sign of deterrence between South Korea and the United States against North Korea," Yoon said, according to a report by news agency Yonhap.
North Korea has conducted a flurry of missile tests in 2022 and is believed to be ready to conduct its seventh nuclear test at any time.
In response to the growing provocations, South Korea and the United States have boosted their military alliance under Yoon and are set to resume full-scale joint military drills this month.
After their two-day trip to South Korea, Pelosi and her delegation are slated to conclude their Asia tour in Japan.