U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris will travel to the Demilitarized Zone on the border of the two Koreas on Thursday to showcase her nation's commitment to the defense of Seoul, a White House official said, an announcement that comes as Pyongyang continues provocative actions.
Harris is currently in Japan, leading a presidential delegation to Tuesday's state funeral for slain former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. She is scheduled to travel to South Korea on Thursday.
The envisioned trip to the DMZ was welcomed by South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck Soo, who met Harris in Tokyo.
The U.S. official said the visit will "underscore the strength of the U.S.-ROK alliance, and the United States' commitment to stand beside the ROK in the face of any threats" posed by North Korea, referring to the acronym of South Korea's official name, the Republic of Korea.
Harris will tour sites at the DMZ, meet with service members and receive an operational briefing from U.S. commanders, the official added.
The United States and North Korea remain technically in a state of war as the 1950-1953 Korean War, in which U.S.-led U.N. forces fought alongside the South against the North supported by China and the Soviet Union, ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty.
Tensions linger on the Korean Peninsula, with the United States and its two close Asian allies -- Japan and South Korea -- concerned that North Korea could carry out its seventh nuclear test and first since September 2017.
Pyongyang has repeatedly test-fired ballistic missiles this year. On Sunday, it fired a short-range ballistic missile toward the Sea of Japan, two days after a U.S. aircraft carrier arrived in South Korea for joint drills.