CIA chief visits South Korea amid heightened tension

Japan's helicopter carrier JS Izumo, foreground, sails by a U.S. supply ship, top left, at anchor in the waters off Yokosuka after the Japanese destroyer departed Yokosuka port, south of Tokyo, Monday, May 1, 2017. Japan's navy has dispatched its largest destroyer reportedly tasked with escorting U.S. military ships off the Japanese coast, a first-time mission under new security legislation that allows Japan’s military a greater role overseas, amid heightened tension on the Korean Peninsula. The Izumo started to escort the U.S. supply ship after the two vessels met up in the waters off the Boso Peninsula, south of Tokyo, later in the day. (Ren Onuma/Kyodo News via AP)

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — America’s CIA director is making an unannounced visit to South Korea, the U.S. Embassy in Seoul confirmed Monday, amid heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

An embassy official said Mike Pompeo and his wife were in the South Korean capital on Monday, but wouldn’t say for how long. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

South Korean media reports said the CIA chief arrived in South Korea over the weekend for meetings with the head of South Korea’s National Intelligence Service and high-level officials in the presidential office. The U.S. official, however, wouldn’t confirm any meetings beyond ones with officials at U.S. Forces in Korea and the U.S. Embassy.

The visit comes after North Korea conducted another missile test on Saturday, and a U.S. aircraft carrier group was in nearby waters. A Japanese destroyer left port Monday, reportedly to escort U.S. naval ships as Japan increases its military role in the region.

The Japanese destroyer Izumo, a helicopter carrier, departed from Yokosuka port south of Tokyo in the morning.

Japanese media reports said it will meet up with and escort a U.S. supply ship, a first-time mission under new security legislation that allows Japan’s military a greater role overseas. They said the U.S. ship is expected to refuel other American warships, including the USS Carl Vinson carrier strike group.

Japan’s Defense Ministry only said that the Izumo would participate in an international naval event in Singapore on May 15.

In Australia, Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull used a commemoration of a World War II naval battle to warn North Korea against destabilizing the region.

“Today Australia and the United States continue to work with our allies to address new security threats around the world,” Turnbull said. “Together, we’re taking a strong message to North Korea that we will not tolerate reckless, dangerous threats to the peace and stability of our region.”

Turnbull is to meet Trump for the first time Thursday in New York.

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Associated Press writers Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo and Rod McGuirk in Canberra, Australia, contributed to this story.

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