Kamala Harris makes ‘Republic of North Korea’ blunder
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Kamala Harris has mistakenly referred to South Korea as the “Republic of North Korea” before going on to praise the US alliance with the non-existent state. The Vice-President made the embarrassing diplomatic blunder during her first-ever visit to the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) separating the two Koreas, known officially as the Republic of South Korea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Ms Harris told a gathering of South Korean delegates: “So the United States shares a very important relationship which is an alliance with the Republic of North Korea.
“And it is an alliance which is strong and enduring” continued the US Vice-President seemingly unware of her error.
“In the North, we see a brutal dictatorship, rampant human rights violations and an unlawful weapons program that threatens peace and stability,” Ms Harris added
“The United States and the world seek a stable and peaceful Korean peninsula where the DPRK is no longer a threat,” she said.
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Vice-President Harris was in the DMZ after arriving in the South Korean capital, Seoul, early on Thursday amid simmering regional tension over North Korea’s missile launches and China’s actions in the Taiwan Strait.
North Korea launched two ballistic missiles from north of Pyongyang into the sea off its east coast, South Korea’s military said, about two hours after Harris’ flight departed for Washington.
The missiles flew about 300 km (186.4 miles) reaching a maximum altitude of 50 km (31 miles), Japan’s Defence Minister Yasukazu Hamada said, indicating they were likely short-range ballistic missiles (SRBM).
The visit by Harris came amid fears that North Korea is about to conduct a nuclear test. South Korean officials say North Korea has completed preparations for what would be its seventh nuclear test and its first since 2017.
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Ms Harris and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol held talks and condemned North Korea’s intensifying nuclear rhetoric and a series of missile tests, the latest of which was conducted on Wednesday.
“They condemned the DPRK’s provocative nuclear rhetoric and ballistic missile launches,” a White House statement said. “They discussed our response to potential future provocations, including through trilateral cooperation with Japan.”
Harris and Yoon reaffirmed the goal of the complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, the White House said.
Harris also reaffirmed a US.-extended deterrence commitment to its Asian ally, including “the full range of US defence capabilities”, it added.
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Yoon’s office said that if the North pushed ahead with serious provocations like a nuclear test, he and Harris agreed to immediately implement “jointly prepared countermeasures,” without elaborating.
North Korea codified its right to use pre-emptive nuclear strikes in a new law early this month. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has said it is developing nuclear weapons and missiles to defend against U.S. threats.
On Taiwan, Harris underscored that efforts to preserve peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait were an “essential element of a free and open Indo-Pacific”, the White House said.
US President Joe Biden’s aides have been shoring up alliances to manage China in the region, including over Taiwan.
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