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Chief of U.S. Intelligence visits S. Korea on Sunday

Posted October. 15, 2021 07:25,   

Updated October. 15, 2021 07:25


Avril Haines, director of National Intelligence (DNI) in the U.S. overseeing all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies including the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), is expected to visit South Korea on Sunday. The U.S. Intelligence chief’s visit to South Korea in five months garners much attention amid the tug-of-war between the U.S. and North Korea over terms for a resumption of dialogue.

According to a South Korean government source, Director Haines will arrive in Seoul on Sunday. After visiting the U.S. Army Garrison in Yongsan on Monday, she is expected to meet with Park Jie-won, director of the South Korean National Intelligence Service in the afternoon.

Director Haines visited South Korea in May, right before the ROK-US summit, when she paid a visit to President Moon Jae-in and toured the Joint Security Area at Panmunjom. Unusual for the chief of the U.S. Intelligence Community, Director Haines did not keep her schedule in private and met up with military and intelligence officers. Pundits said that her public appearance itself was a message to China and North Korea.

The upcoming visit by Director Haines is arranged at a time when North Korea demands the U.S. government to abandon its “hostile policy” toward North Korea as a condition for the resumption of talks. Although the inter-Korean hotlines were restored on Oct. 4, North Korea remains unresponsive to the U.S., which reached out for talks. when she served as the Deputy Director of the CIA, Director Haines is known to have visited Pyongyang and directly communicated with the North. As of yet, no official visit to Cheong Wa Dae or Panmunjom area is scheduled for this time.

Director Haines and the South Korean counterpart will discuss a number of issues including the North Korean nuclear program, cybercrime, and China-related agenda. The U.S. reportedly has increased the number of monitoring agents specialized in cyber attacks from North Korea based on the assessment that the latest cyber attacks launched by North Korea are posing a credible threat to the U.S. national security.

According to Voice of America, in a virtual interview hosted by the American Bar Association on Wednesday, Director Haines pointed out that North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction pose “a long-standing threat” to the United States, which “still remains a continuous threat.” She further characterized China as the “unprecedented threat” and America’s “pacing threat.” Mentioning Beijing’s military power capable of destabilizing regional stability as well as its cyber and and economic competence, Director Haines emphasized that the threat from China must be treated as “unmatched top priority.”

Ji-Sun Choi aurinko@donga.com · Jin-Woo Shin niceshin@donga.com