"The president is not going to visit the DMZ. There is not enough time in the schedule. It would have had to be the DMZ or Camp Humphreys," the official told reporters in a briefing on Tuesday. "It made more sense in terms of messaging."
Last week the president declined to say whether he will visit the Demilitarized Zone during his upcoming Asia trip, telling reporters "You'll be surprised."
The White House said this gives the president a chance to address U.S. and South Korean troops and to highlight South Korea's role in sharing the burden of supporting the alliance.
The comments were an apparent response to news that the U.S. has open channels of communication with North Korea. The president also tweeted Sunday that Tillerson should save his energy because the U.S. will "do what has to be done."
A senior administration official on Tuesday defended the president's tweets, telling reporters that he was not tweeting that diplomacy with North Korea was a "waste of time" but was referring to "direct talks" with North Korea.
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