Day 273: Clinton, Bush and Obama Went, But Will Trump Visit the DMZ Next Month?

Donald Trump is set for a 12-day trip to Asia next month. One of the biggest current questions about the jaunt is whether he will visit the demilitarized zone, or DMZ, that has separated the North and South for over six decades during his visit.

Some aides worry a visit could further inflame already heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula, while others have expressed concern over Trump’s personal safety, according to people who have spoken to administration officials.
Asian foreign policy veterans of both the Obama and George W. Bush administrations said it would be foolish for Trump not to go. But the White House is facing opposition from South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s administration and the U.S. State Department over fears that a visit would ratchet up Trump’s war of words with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

While speaking to troops and giving speeches at other bases around the world is important, the message becomes even more powerful when given from a spot where many North Korean soldiers are armed and visible.

“The DMZ functions as a kind of amplifier,” said Daniel Russel, who served as assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs under President Barack Obama and is now a senior fellow at the Asia Society. “The message takes on a more martial and ominous tone when it comes out of a military command post on North Korea’s doorstep.”

Bill Clinton went.

George W. Bush went.

Barack Obama went.

Will Donald Trump go?

273 days in, 1189 to go

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