Mike Pence warns North Korea: 'The sword stands ready'

At the outset of a working lunch with Abe, Pence said that the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump remained committed to working together with regional stakeholders to ensure a peaceful Korean Peninsular.

Pence also told gathered servicemembers from both USA and Japanese forces that Tokyo will "assume a larger role and responsibility" within its security alliance with Washington.

Tensions have risen in the region of late, as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) has conducted multiple missile tests and two nuclear tests in the past 18 months, with the United States' recent deployment of an aircraft carrier unit to the region after holding large-scale "war games" near the peninsula also stoking concerns.

The Trump administration has signaled a more forceful US stance toward North Korea's recent missile tests and threats, including a warning from Trump that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has "gotta behave".

US Vice President Pence held talks with Japan's PM Abe about PyongyangUS Vice President Mike Pence is now on his 10-day Asia-Pacific tour.

"President Trump is determined to work closely with Japan, with South Korea, with all our allies in the region, and with China, to achieve a peaceable solution and denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula", Pence said.

Pence called the USA commitment to Japan unwavering, adding that its agreement to defend Japanese territory will continue to include the Senkaku Islands, which China also claims as its own. Indeed, a spokesman for North Korea's foreign ministry issued a statement saying it is "ready to react to any mode of war desired by the U.S".

Mattis did not identify the type of missile but said it was not of intercontinental range, meaning it could not reach USA territory.

"It does very seriously damage the credibility of the pressure the Americans are trying to apply to North Korea", said Hugh White, who was deputy secretary for strategy and intelligence in the Australian Department of Defense from 1995 to 2000.

The Trump administration has signaled a forceful USA stance on North Korea's recent actions, dispatching Pence to the Demilitarized Zone dividing North and South Korea on Monday in a show of American resolve.

The weapon, a tactical ship-to-ground guided missile, will enhance South Korea's ability to strike North Korea's critical military facilities in the event of a crisis on the peninsula. Wang told reporters that although USA officials have made clear that a military strike remains a possibility, he believes that Washington would still prefer to de-escalate tensions through multi-sided talks.

Pence told reporters Monday that Trump was hopeful China would use its "extraordinary levers" to pressure the North to abandon its weapons program.

Throughout his bareknuckle election campaign, Trump repeatedly called into question a mutual defence treaty between Japan and the United States, suggesting Tokyo should pay for its own security. But Pence expressed impatience with the unwillingness of the regime to move toward ridding itself of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters he hopes "there will be no unilateral actions like those we saw recently in Syria and that the USA will follow the line that President Trump repeatedly voiced during the election campaign".

For its part, China made a plea for a return to negotiations.

  • Leroy Wright