Avril Haines visits DMZ, meets South Korea military intelligence chief

The Senate on Wednesday voted 84-10 to confirm Avril Haines as director of national intelligence, marking the first member of President Joe Biden's Cabinet to be approved by Congress. Pool Photo by Joe Raedle/UPI

May 13, 2021 (UPI) — The U.S. director of national intelligence visited South Korea and toured the heavily guarded demilitarized zone, sending a signal to North Korea ahead of a summit in Washington.

Avril Haines arrived in Korea on Thursday morning after concluding a trilateral intelligence meeting in Tokyo. The DMZ was her first official stopover, but the details of her visit, including whether she traveled to the truce village of Panmunjom were not confirmed, South Korean newspaper Segye Ilbo reported.

Haines also is expected to meet with President Moon Jae-in and Suh Hoon, Moon’s director of national security. Suh previously served as spy agency chief.

Haines’ visit to Seoul comes at a time when Washington is weighing its options on North Korea. The Biden administration has said in its North Korea policy review that it would dedicate itself to a “more calibrated, practical, measured approach” toward the regime.

South Korean officials this week have suggested that the United States already may have reached out to Pyongyang for talks. According to Segye Ilbo, North Korea has confirmed receiving the U.S. proposal.

Haines also visited Seoul’s Defense Intelligence Agency and met with agency chief Maj. Gen. Lee Young-choul. Information on North Korea’s latest weapons, the regime’s nuclear arsenal and military were exchanged, South Korean news service News 1 reported.

The U.S. intelligence chief met with her Japanese and South Korean counterparts in Tokyo earlier this week, after warning about threats posed by Pyongyang.

Haines had said before the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee that North Korea “may take aggressive and potentially destabilizing actions to reshape its security environment and seek to drive wedges between the United States and its allies.”


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