Published: Fri, April 21, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

Haley to North Korea: Don't pick a fight with the US

Haley to North Korea: Don't pick a fight with the US

A USA aircraft carrier the Navy had said was heading toward the Korean Peninsula amid rising tensions has not yet started sailing to the region, a US defense official acknowledged Tuesday.

In remarks to reporters at the Pentagon on April 11th, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said that "she's stationed there in the western Pacific for a reason".

But photos recently published on the Navy's website shows the Vinson and its escorts were in the Indian Ocean late last week. The shortest distance between the Sunda Strait and the Korean Peninsula would be to transit through the South China Sea, but it would still be a long journey.

As worries deepened last week about whether North Korea would conduct a missile test, the White House declared that ordering a U.S. aircraft carrier into the Sea of Japan would send a powerful deterrent signal and give President Donald Trump more options in responding to the North's provocative behaviour.

News organizations around the world, including NPR, covered the statements by Trump and other officials in Washington about the Carl Vinson's deployment as though the ships were bearing down on North Korea.

That must have kept the loony North Koreans off balance. The carrier and its companions could still make their way back to the Korean Peninsula, which they last visited in March, but USA defense officials generally decline to describe the deployments of American military units before the fact.

Other nations were said to be joining in.

Officials later said the strike group, including the 97,000-ton carrier and its 60-plus aircraft, the guided-missile destroyers USS Wayne E. Meyer and USS Michael Murphy and the guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain would participate in naval exercises with the Australian navy south of Singapore before heading to Korea. North Korea is north of Singapore.

Trump on Tuesday said that the USA wants peace with North Korea, but added that the success of any peaceful solution to the heightened tensions will be contingent on whether North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is willing to pursue such a route.

'They are going to start heading north towards the Sea of Japan within next 24 hours, ' the official said on condition of anonymity.

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