WASHINGTON – The entire US Senate will visit the White House on Wednesday to receive a classified briefing on North Korea as tensions rise near Korean peninsula.
In a rare move that signals the Trump administration’s growing focus on the potential threat from socialist nation, all 100 lawmakers in the upper chamber are set to attend the meeting, along with select other officials involved in the government’s decision-making process, such as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis, the BBC reported.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer announced the meeting at a news briefing Monday, and said it was set up by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., not the White House.
“We are just serving as the location,” Spicer said.
Senate lawmakers are often briefed on matters of national security but it’s extremely uncommon for the entire chamber to visit the White House for such a purpose.
It was unclear Monday how many senators plan to attend the briefing.
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will also attend.
The meeting comes at a time of heightened tensions between Washington and Pyongyang regarding the Asian nation’s nuclear capabilities.
US warship reaches S Korea
The USS Michigan docked at South Korea’s Busan port on Tuesday, in what it called a routine visit. It is a nuclear-powered submarine carrying 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles and 60 special operations troops and mini-subs, reported the South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo.
The missile-armed USS Michigan is set to join an incoming group of warships led by aircraft carrier Carl Vinson, which the US said it was dispatching to North Korea earlier this month to “maintain readiness” in the region.
Pyongyang reacted angrily to the aircraft carrier deployment, threatening to sink it and launch a “super-mighty pre-emptive strike” against what it called US aggression.
China is North Korea’s only ally and main trading partner – and the US has been urging Beijing to help put pressure on Pyongyang.
Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke to Mr Trump on Monday, urging all sides to “maintain restraint and avoid actions that would increase tensions”.
North Korea is celebrating its army’s 85th founding anniversary on Tuesday. It marked the event with a large-scale firing drill, South Korea said.
“Our military is closely monitoring the North Korean military’s movement,” the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.
On the other hand, Pyongyang remains defiant, including of China, warning that if it helped the US, the results would be “catastrophic”.
Envoys from South Korea, the US and Japan are discussing North Korea in Tokyo.