Vice President of United States Mike Pence is taking a trip to South Korea on Saturday. This trip is not unexpected; it had been scheduled for a while and is going to be his first official visit to the Asia-Pacific region. The timing of the trip is quite crucial for US and its allies as it is taking place just when North Korea’s posturing has reached a new height. There are concerns that on Saturday on the 105th anniversary of the birth of the nation’s founder, North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un might decide to commemorate the event with its sixth nuclear test.
Birth anniversary of Kim II-Sung the founder of North Korea and grandfather of Kim Jong Un is the most important national holiday for the country and in the past it had often been an excuse for North Korea to showcase its military might. President Donald Trump has already dispatched a navy armada headed by an aircraft carrier to the region, to discourage further nuclear tests by North Korea.
The volatile situation in the region makes VP Pence’s visit even more important. Seoul is only the first stop in his tour; he will also be visiting Tokyo, Jakarta, Sydney and Hawaii before returning to the US mainland. According to a White House foreign policy adviser, Pence will use this opportunity to lay out US’s policies to its allies and this will also be his chance to build and strengthen personal relationships with government and business leaders.
He will be celebrating Easter with U.S. and Korean troops on Sunday before his meeting with South Korea’s acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn on Monday. In that meeting he will be reiterating USA’s commitment to consult with South Korea about the nuclear ambitions of North Korea. Further sanctions on North Korea could also be on the agenda if the issue is brought up.