Mike Pence takes message of US resolve against North Korea to Japan

North Korea's failed missile test on Sunday provides an opportunity for the United States to press for more stringent sanctions and for China to demonstrate its willingness to curb Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions.

Despite President Trump's optimism that China will use its "extraordinary levers" to pressure North Korea, there have been questions about whether Beijing is serious about working with the U.S.to hinder dictator Kim Jong Un from developing the country's nuclear program.

Suga, the Japanese government spokesman, said Japan hopes to discuss policies on North Korea with Pence and to convey a growing sense of urgency over its missile tests and other actions.

Appearing later with South Korea's acting president, Hwang Kyo-ahn, the vice president pointed to Trump's recent military actions in Syria and Afghanistan as signs that the new administration would not shrink from acting against the North.

Tensions between North Korea and the U.S. have soared in recent weeks, as a series of North Korean missile tests have prompted ever-more bellicose warnings from the administration of Trump.

In an interview with Press TV, Carl Osgood, a US-based political commentator, cautioned the U.S. officials about the grave consequences of military action against Pyongyang, stressing that North Korea is different from Syria and that firing the first missile would trigger a heavy barrage of missiles on Washington's allies and its military bases in the region.

The North has warned of a nuclear strike against the United States if provoked.

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

Mr. Abe said Japan likewise hopes for peaceful dialogue with Pyongyang, "but at the same time, dialogue for the sake of dialogue is valueless".

The Trump administration is focusing its strategy on tougher economic sanctions, possibly including an oil embargo, a global ban on its airline, intercepting cargo ships and punishing Chinese banks doing business with Pyongyang. Pressure on North Korea is crucial, the prime minister said.

Photo Credit: Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP China accounts for an estimated 80 percent of North Korea's foreign trade, along with crucial food and fuel assistance.

At this point, if the president of the United States could just telegraph that he knows who the leader of North Korea is, that would be a good start.

North Korea could react to a potential U.S. strike by targeting South Korea or Japan, and officials in Tokyo and Seoul have been ill at ease with the more bellicose language deployed by Trump's administration. "I'm not like other administrations where they say we're going to do this in four weeks". Although the US government is still trying to resolve the issue "peacefully" it is not something that they can allow to linger.

Speaking at a rare press conference at the United Nations in NY just hours after US Vice President Mike Pence visited the demilitarised zone separating the two Koreas, Kim In-ryong condemned the US naval build-up off the Korean Peninsula.

Susan Thornton, acting U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asia, said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and China's top diplomat, State Councillor Yang Jiechi, agreed in a phone call on Sunday on the need for strict enforcement of United Nations resolutions and for worldwide action to press Pyongyang "to cease provocative actions and recommit to peaceful denuclearisation". There are concerns that the country will conduct a nuclear test, which would be its sixth, and also launch an intercontinental ballistic missile.

The US vice president is in Japan for talks.

Trump campaigned on an "America First" platform, and has vowed to narrow big trade deficits with nations such as China and Japan.

Asked by a reporter what message he had for North Korea's young leader Kim Jong-Un on Monday, Trump replied "Gotta behave". "But the US is troubled by China's economic retaliation against South Korea for taking appropriate steps to defend itself", he said, referring to the US THAAD missile defence system.

  • Zachary Reyes