Published: Sun, April 16, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

US, China working on North Korea problem

US, China working on North Korea problem

While the North did not conduct a nuclear test, the specter of a potential escalated US response trailed Pence as he began a 10-day trip to Asia amid increasing tensions and heated rhetoric.

Pence's remarks at an Easter Service with American troops based in South Korea came after North Korea launched a missile off its east coast.

The type of missile was not clear.

One day earlier, North Korea conducted a massive military parade in Pyongyang to celebrate the April 15 anniversary of founder Kim Il Sung's birthday.

Trump has suggested that the US will take a tougher stance against North Korea, telling reporters last week: "North Korea is a problem".

Pence had been briefed on the failed launch en route to Seoul and had been in touch with President Donald Trump, White House aides said.

Others say the launch could be part of its intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) development program.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un hailed that test as the "greatest success" and said it brought the U.S. mainland within range of a mobile delivery system.

On Friday, China again called for talks to defuse the crisis.

More directly on North Korea, the president returned to a theme of placing much onus on China for reining in the North.

Trump has ordered a navy strike group flagshipped by a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to head to the region as a show of force as his officials assess tougher economic sanctions as well as military options against the North. The adviser, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the administration's initial understanding of the launch, said there was no expected response from the Trump administration because there was no need for the U.S.to reinforce the failure. There is limited data available about the missile, because it blew up so soon, but a USA military official told CNN they believed it did not have intercontinental range.

The North has reiterated its constant refrain that it is ready for war with the United States, and its army vowed Friday a "merciless" response to any USA provocation. Recent satellite imagery suggests the country could conduct another underground nuclear test at any time.

China, the North's sole major ally, and Russian Federation have both urged restraint, with Beijing's Foreign Minister Wang Yi warning that "conflict could break out at any moment".

"If the United States wages reckless provocation against us, our revolutionary power will instantly counter with annihilating strike, and we will respond to full-out war with full-out war and to nuclear war with our style of nuclear strike warfare", he said.

The failed test occurred as a US naval strike force moves into the region in a show of force, and amid increasingly tough warnings from the Trump administration that the U.S.is prepared to take increased measures against North Korea that include possible military action. He was expected to go to church along with US and South Korean troops for Easter Sunday services followed by a dinner later in the day.

On Monday he is scheduled to meet Acting President Hwang Kyo-Ahn for talks expected to focus on the North's weapons programmes and a controversial U.S. missile defence system known as THAAD.

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