- Thomson Reuters
- Donald Trump tried to make a surprise visit to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) on Wednesday morning. Trump’s helicopter made two attempts to depart Seoul but the trip had to be aborted due to fog and bad weather. Trump had not been scheduled to visit the DMZ but yesterday cryptically hinted Wednesday would be “an exciting day”. According to an official from President Moon’s office, the South Korean President had been waiting at the DMZ for Trump’s arrival.
US President Donald Trump aborted a surprise visit to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) on Wednesday morning.
Trump, who is currently on a 13-day tour of Asia, attempted to depart Seoul in a helicopter at 7:43 a.m., but bad weather and a thick fog forced a return landing in Seoul less than thirty minutes later.
Every US president since Ronald Reagan has visited the DMZ at some point. However, a visit was not officially part of Trump’s itinerary after a White House official said, “It’s becoming a bit of a cliche, frankly.”
Yet Trump had hinted a big event would be coming on Wednesday.
At Tuesday’s state dinner with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Trump announced cryptically, “We’re going to have an exciting day tomorrow, for many reasons that people will find out.”
Apparently Trump’s attempt for his own visit had been in the works for some time.
The US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis, and Vice President Mike Pence have all visited the DMZ within the last few months.
Press were told with a scrap of paper
Helicopters carrying Trump and an entourage of staff, media, and security forces were turned back just minutes from the DMZ.
“There wasn’t enough visibility to land,” Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. “It would have been really dangerous, and our guys pulled back.”
Press traveling with the president were told to wait 10 to 20 minutes for another attempt. But after waiting for nearly an hour the president departed in a motorcade around 9 a.m, according to a White House pool report.
Sanders had summoned reporters early on Wednesday morning.
“This is where we’re going,” Sanders said, holding up a piece of notepaper that had the letters “DMZ” scrawled on it.
She said that was the way she had been instructed to tell the press and that all activity regarding the trip to the Demilitarized Zone were under embargo, and could not be reported on, until Trump landed back in Seoul after the visit.
“He’s actually pretty frustrated,” Sanders said of Trump.
The trip was finalized the previous day
The trip was finalized during bilateral meetings between Trump and South Korea President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday, officials said.
When Trump told Moon he was interested in visiting the DMZ, the South Korean president not only gave his blessing, but said he would meet Trump there.
“It would be good for you to go. If you go, I will go with you,” said Moon, quoted by a presidential Blue House official.
Moon waited about 30 minutes for Trump at the DMZ on Wednesday, having driven part of the way to the fortified border by road, an option not open to Trump because of security concerns.
If the trip had been a success it would have been the first time Presidents from the US and South Korea had visited the DMZ together.