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(2nd LD) U.S. Vice President Harris to visit DMZ during trip to S. Korea this week: PM

Politics 14:51 September 27, 2022

(ATTN: ADDS official's briefing, White House statement in last 3 paras)

TOKYO, Sept. 27 (Yonhap) -- U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris will visit the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating the two Koreas during her visit to South Korea this week, South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo said Tuesday.

Han made the remarks during a meeting with Harris in Tokyo before they are set to attend the funeral of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe later in the day.

Han said the planned visit by Harris to the DMZ on Thursday is a "symbolic" move for the South Korea-U.S. alliance.

Harris told Han the alliance is "the linchpin of security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific."

South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo (L) holds talks with U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris at a Tokyo hotel on Sept. 27, 2022. Han and Harris are in the Japanese capital to attend the state funeral for former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. (Yonhap)

Harris' visit to the DMZ comes less than two months after U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi went there.

It also comes just days after North Korea launched a short-range ballistic missile Sunday, in an apparent show of force against joint military drills between Seoul and Washington.

Harris said the allies have "a lot of work" to do to strengthen their relations, including their investment in innovation, technology and space.

According to the prime minister's office, Han and Harris discussed the global comprehensive strategic alliance, which was agreed by South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and U.S. President Joe Biden in May.

Han also conveyed South Korea's concerns over the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the office said.

The IRA excludes electric vehicles assembled outside North America from tax incentives, raising concerns it will act as a significant trade barrier for Korean-made cars.

During the meeting, Harris told Han that the two nations will continue close consultations to address Seoul's concerns over the IRA, South Korea's First Vice Foreign Minister Cho Hyun-dong, who is accompanying Han, told reporters.

Harris told Han that the U.S. will continue to seek ways to address South Korean's concerns about a transitional period until the production of Korean electric vehicles begins in the U.S., Cho said.

In a statement, the White House said Harris "underscored that she understood the ROK's concerns regarding the Act's tax incentives for electric vehicles, and they pledged to continue to consult as the law is implemented." ROK is the acronym of South Korea's official name, the Republic of Korea.

kdh@yna.co.kr
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