Published: Wed, April 19, 2017
U.S. | By Eddie Scott

Pence to North Korea: 'The sword stands ready'

On the diplomatic front, the White House is looking to China, North Korea's primary trading partner, to turn up pressure on the north.

But the vice president expressed impatience with the unwillingness of the North to move toward ridding itself of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

Strategy and patience with Beijing are crucial, too.

During his visit to Japan, Pence also said that the United States will continue to work with China, since the world's most populous (and communist) nation is in a position to exert much influence on North Korea.

China's top negotiator for North Korea's nuclear program, Wu Dawei, held talks on the missile shield and North Korea's recent actions during a visit to Seoul last week.

In the latest of a series of warnings to Pyongyang that the USA will keep "everything on the table" to force it to give up its nuclear weapons programme, Mike Pence claimed North Korea was getting the message that it needed to walk away from "reckless activity". So far Trump has shown flexibility in considering the broader context of the U.S. -South Korean installation, which is just outside the 2.5-mile wide (4 kilometers) DMZ.

Mattis credited China with trying to help get the North Korea situation "under control" with the goal of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.

As they sat down for talks, Mr Pence told Mr Aso: "When President Trump agreed to this dialogue, he envisioned this as a mechanism for enhancing bilateral commercial relations between the USA and Japan, and achieving results in the near future. But dialogue for the sake of having dialogue is meaningless".

"It will instead seek a bilateral deal with Japan which it hopes will give United States companies better access to its market".

Pence made the remark during a meeting with representatives of the US Chamber of Commerce here before leaving for Japan, the second stopover in his 10-day Asia-Pacific tour. Pressure on North Korea is crucial, the prime minister said.

Tensions on the peninsula have ratcheted up in recent weeks amid sabre-rattling from both the United States and North Korea. "President Trump is playing a very unsafe game indeed". But at the same time, McMaster said on "This Week" on ABC that "it's time for us to undertake all actions we can, short of a military option, to try to resolve this peacefully".

Pence also said the USA would protect freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, the sea lanes vital to global shipping where China has been staking claim to disputed territory.

"Nobody's ever seen such a positive response on our behalf from China, and then the fake media goes 'Donald Trump has changed his stance on China'".

Wang's comments came amid a mounting war of words between Washington and Pyongyang.

The officials weren't authorized to speak publicly on the results of the policy review and requested anonymity.

He has sent a navy strike group towards the Korean Peninsula, and the USA and South Korea are moving ahead with the early deployment of a controversial missile defence system. According to US officials, the missile exploded four to five seconds after being launched from a location near a North Korean submarine base in Sinpo along the country's eastern coast.

North Korea's deputy United Nations ambassador has accused the United States of turning the Korean Peninsula into "the world's biggest hotspot" and creating "a risky situation in which a thermonuclear war may break out at any moment". Trump doesn't seem to know exactly who the leader of North Korea is - or have any grasp of how long he's been in power.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters over the weekend that Japan might push ahead with a revised, 11-nation version of the TPP despite the USA rejection of the trade accord. In the middle of him talking with North Korea I'm going to hit them with currency manipulation?

In early March, the North simultaneously fired four ballistic missiles off its east coast, three of which fell provocatively close to Japan, in what it said was a drill for an attack on U.S. bases in the country. Trump tweeted on Sunday.

"If the figure of speech used by the U.S. Vice President can be understood as a threat of a unilateral military solution, it is a highly risky path", Lavrov said according to a release from the Moscow's Foreign Ministry.

"We'll be conducting more missile tests on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis", Vice-Foreign Minister Han Song-ryol told the BBC's John Sudworth.

The North regularly launches short-range missiles, but is also developing mid-range and long-range missiles meant to target US troops in Asia and, eventually, the USA mainland.

North Korea's deputy ambassador to the United Nations reiterated on the weekend that the North is ready to respond to any U.S. missile or nuclear strike.

Experts say the North may soon carry out its sixth nuclear test.

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