(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with Harris' remarks)
By Song Sang-ho
SEOUL, Sept. 29 (Yonhap) -- U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris said Thursday that Washington will do "everything in our power" to ensure its security commitment to South Korea, amid growing North Korean nuclear and missile threats.
Harris made the remarks after a tour of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating the two Koreas. She arrived here from Japan earlier in the day, following two rounds of North Korean missile launches this week.
"I cannot state enough that the commitment of the U.S. to the defense of the Republic of Korea is ironclad, and that we will do everything in our power to ensure that it has meaning in every way the words suggest," she told reporters.
Harris reaffirmed America's extended deterrence to its Asian ally, which she said is supported by the "full range of U.S. military capabilities."
Touching on the evolving threats from the North, Harris highlighted the South and the U.S. are "aligned on the issue."
Before entering the DMZ, Harris visited Camp Bonifas, a border unit, to encourage American troops.
"You've worked hard. You've had the highest level of skills and discipline ... You make our commitment real," she told the border troops. "So, know how grateful and thankful we are."
Hours earlier, she met with South Korean women leaders from various walks of life in Seoul on Thursday to discuss gender equality, a key focus of the Joe Biden administration's domestic and foreign policies.
The vice president held a "groundbreaking women roundtable" at the residence of the U.S. ambassador in central Seoul, where she displayed her excitement at the stories of Korean women having achieved parity with male rivals in their respective fields.
The participants included figure skating champion Kim Yuna, Naver CEO Choi Soo-yeon, Oscar-winning actress Youn Yuh-jung and Baik Hyun-wook, head of the Korean Medical Women's Association.
"I feel strongly that when women succeed, all of society succeeds," she said. "Therefore, I believe if we want to strengthen democracy, we must pay attention to gender equity."
Gender equality has been a policy priority for the Biden administration as seen in its release last year of the country's first-ever national strategy to achieve gender equality, which includes ambitious goals for women not only in the U.S. but also abroad.