US Vice president Pence reassures Japan as North Korea threatens 'weekly' tests

Nick Mcbride
April 19, 2017

During the presidential election, Trump in stump speeches railed against China, vowing to label the world's second-largest economy a currency manipulator on day one in office and impose tariffs to force the country to negotiate a better trade deal. North Korea's nuclear and missile development dominated the agenda on his first stop in South Korea.

The last time Wu visited Pyongyang, in early February a year ago, his job was to urge restraint after North Korea announced a plan to put a satellite into orbit with a long-range rocket. Capping the arsenal at its current stage is one of the more palatable among several unpalatable options, US and Chinese experts say. Pressure on North Korea is crucial, he said.

For example, before the TPP took effect in 2012, South Korea's trade surplus against the United States stood at $11.6 billion at end-2011.

Tensions with the country, ruled by Kim Jong-un, have escalated in the last few days after North Korea said it would conduct weekly missile tests and warned that an "all-out war" would result from and U.S. military action against it.

For weeks Washington has pushed the view that Beijing is the key to solving the North Korean nuclear problem. As Vice President Pence said yesterday, the "era of strategic patience is over".

Following a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Pence said he had reassured Japan of US commitment to a denuclearized Korean Peninsula.

Pence's economic discussions in Tokyo will be closely watched to see how hard a line Washington is prepared to take on trade.

President Trump denied he's softened his position on China to gain its help in curbing North Korea's increasing military provocations.

He added that his company has "no way to monitor and approve the use of the trucks by North Korea".

On Monday, Pence traveled to the tense Demilitarized Zone dividing North and South Korea, where he warned North Korea's leaders that after years of testing the USA and South Korea with its nuclear ambitions, "the era of strategic patience is over". It has repeatedly called for talks while appearing increasingly frustrated with the North.

But Mr. Pence said the remarks were actually encouraging.

At a news conference at the United Nations on Monday, North Korea's permanent representative Ambassador Kim In-ryong, condemned the USA missile strikes in Syria, which targeted an air base after a suspected chemical attack by the government. "We have a lot of power with China".

China and North Korea maintain "normal contacts, including normal business contacts", said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang, when asked about the trucks.

It comes as the autocratic country vowed to continue carrying out missile tests on a weekly basis and threatened "all out war" if the United States takes military action.

It has said it has developed a missile that can strike the mainland United States, but officials and experts believe it is some time away from mastering the necessary technology, including miniaturizing a nuclear warhead. "The deputy ambassador says it sounds like you and the administration are insisting on gangster-like logic".

Trump entered the meeting talking tough.

The North's news agency KCNA on Monday published Kim Jong-un's letter to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

"North Korea has vastly increased the threat that it poses to the region and global peace, so any rise in tensions is entirely due to the provocative behaviour of North Korea", Ms Bishop said.

China banned imports of North Korean coal on February 26, cutting off its most important export and Chinese media has raised the possibility of restricting oil shipments to the North if it unleashed more provocations. But Pence expressed impatience with the unwillingness of the North to move toward ridding itself of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

Other reports by VgToday

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