President Donald Trump left Friday for an overseas trip to Hawaii and east Asia, where he will also meet with South Korean officials in Seoul.
“The President’s trip will focus on three goals: strengthening international resolve to denuclearize North Korea, promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific region, and advancing American prosperity through fair and reciprocal trade,” the White House said in a statement. “President Trump will stress the United States’ commitment to the complete, verifiable, and permanent denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and will call on all responsible nations to act now to ensure that the North Korean regime cannot threaten the world with nuclear devastation.”
With Trump less than 200 miles from the Korean peninsula’s Demilitarized Zone, it is widely expected North Korea will use the occasion to launch new missile tests to display defiance of the United States.
In a rambling statement from the North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party of Korea, newspaper Rodong Sinmun writes “The U.S. is, indeed, the offender, arch criminal escalating tension on the Korean Peninsula and harasser of peace and it is just that the DPRK has rapidly developed the nuclear force under the line of simultaneously developing the two fronts.”
North Korea, the paper warns “will hold fast to the line of simultaneously developing the two fronts and proudly exercise its right to self-defense granted by international law no matter what others may say.”
North Korean missile tests are often held to coincide with major DPRK holidays or US political events. Earlier this year the regime launched a new long-range missile as Trump held his first meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping.