Pence Assures Japan America is With Ally '100 Percent'

Pence earlier told a news conference in South Korea that "the era of strategic patience is over" after North Korea on Sunday test-fired another missile and fears mounted that it may be preparing a sixth nuclear test.

US President Donald Trump has said that will not happen, and stepped up pressure on the isolated North.

Trump made the off-the-cuff comment to a CNN reporter after kicking off the 139th annual Easter egg roll with First Lady Melania Trump. Last year, Reuters reported that North Korea was using Sinotruk HOWO trucks to display a new mobile artillery system.

Susan Thornton, acting assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, said it was hard to glean much information given how quickly the rocket failed.

Pyongyang recently conducted its fifth nuclear test and is soon expected to conduct a sixth, part of its accelerated drive to develop missiles that can reach the continental USA with nuclear weapons small enough to place in the nosecones.

Critics have accused Ahn of lacking principles on national security, saying he reversed his position to accept the deployment of a USA missile defense system in South Korea.

U.S. vice-president Mike Pence reassured Japan of America's commitment to reining in North Korea's nuclear and missile ambitions on Tuesday, after warning that United States strikes in Syria and Afghanistan showed the strength of its resolve.

But North Korea's Ambassador to the United Nations has warned nuclear war may break out at any moment, accusing the USA of turning the Korean Peninsula into the "world's biggest hotspot".

Pence arrived in South Korea just hours after North Korea launched its latest ballistic missile - which exploded within a few seconds - and amid a weekend of fanfare in North Korea, during which the regime showed off what appeared to be new missiles created to reach the United States.

But Pyongyang knows it's playing a risky game: Any American-led strike on North Korea would likely prove devastating.

"Of course I think that any country will feel that political diplomatic means are of course the first choice", Wang said.

The nominee of the center-left People's Party made the claim in response to a North Korean media report that disparaged him as the "lesser evil" for conservatives in an election shaping up to be a two-way race between Ahn and Moon Jae-in of the liberal Democratic Party. But there's a reason previous administrations have taken a careful, calibrated approach on North Korea - and one anchored in regional diplomacy, not the presence of an "armada" - as Trump put it - of American warships.

After talks with Japan's deputy prime minister, Taro Aso, Pence said the US would work with Japan, China and other nations to get Pyongyang to give up its atomic weapons program.

He said that an "all-out war" would result if the United States took military action. But, as my colleagues report, Trump presents a new and potentially risky wild card, even to many South Koreans who have grown accustomed - even desensitized - to North Korean threats. "Trump is more impulsive and unpredictable than Kim Jong Un", he told viewers of his Sunday prime-time Vesti Nedelyi program, which earlier this year praised Trump for his pledge of warmer relations with Russian Federation.

In New York, North Korea returned verbal fire.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told reporters in Beijing on Monday that the Korean peninsula was "highly sensitive, complicated and high risk" and that all sides should "avoid taking provocative actions that pour oil on the fire". "But dialogue for the sake of having dialogue is meaningless".

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 US rejection of the trade accord.

They've been suspended since the last round collapsed in 2008 following a failed rocket launch in North Korea.

North Korea's deputy United Nations ambassador on Monday accused the USA of turning the Korean Peninsula into "the world's biggest hot spot" and creating "a unsafe situation in which a thermonuclear war may break out at any moment".

Han reiterated North Korea's position that it would react with a "nuclear pre-emptive strike by our own style and method" should the USA plan a military attack on the country.

He said the Trump administration's deployment of the Carl Vinson nuclear carrier task group to waters off the Korean Peninsula again "proves the USA reckless moves for invading the DPRK have reached a serious phase of its scenario".

Sure enough, after some interagency discussion, the Trump administration issued a short official statement in the name of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, calling Pyongyang's action another failed test and stating that the USA government would have no further comment.

Back in Washington, White House press secretary Sean Spicer indicated tolerance for a bit more patience on the USA side during a briefing with reporters Monday. The meeting, scheduled to be chaired by Tillerson, will focus on North Korea's nuclear program.

Trump campaigned on accusing Asian allies of not paying their fair share for common defense and USA support.

WALL STREET: Major U.S. benchmarks ended higher.

That deal was soon scuppered, however, when North Korea carried out its first nuclear test in October 2006 then pulled out of the discussions in 2009.

Xi, however, has yet to meet North Korea's young leader Kim Jong Un since the Chinese president took power in 2012 and ties between the two countries have become more distant since Pyongyang began accelerating its missile and nuclear programmes since Kim became leader at the end of 2011. However, North Korea didn't respond to Wu's request to visit Pyongyang, according to South Korea's Yonhap news agency. The overtures came after Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Trump in Florida, the people said.

Colvin reported from Washington.

  • Leroy Wright