Pence visits Japan, turning focus to trade with key ally

Kim said the Trump administration is "trumpeting about "peace by strength" by deploying "one strategic striking means after another in South Korea". "And that's a awful outcome, obviously, for everyone, including the innocent North Koreans who are just held as prisoners of his regime", Stewart said.

In the meantime, North Korea's deputy U.N. ambassador accused the United States of turning the Korean peninsula into "the world's biggest hotspot" and creating "a risky situation in which a thermonuclear war may break out at any moment".

But a far more likely scenario, he said, would be to destroy North Korea's missiles before they're tested, either on the launching pad or intercepting them in the air to "not just send a message, but detract from their military capabilities".

McMaster cited Trump's recent decision to order missile strikes in Syria after a chemical attack blamed on the Assad government, as a sign that the president "is clearly comfortable making tough decisions".

Korean tensions have escalated following repeated North Korean missile tests and concerns that Pyongyang may soon conduct a sixth nuclear bomb test in defiance of United Nations sanctions. He suggested that USA plans to deploy a missile defense system in South Korea were damaging its relations with China. He hinted at conditioning the reversal on added Beijing pressure on Pyongyang, tweeting, "Why would I call China a currency manipulator when they are working with us on the North Korean problem?"

US Vice President Mike Pence arrives in Tokyo on Tuesday bringing a renewed commitment to Japan's security amid a growing threat from a nuclear armed North Korea.

During his visit to South Korea, at the outset of his 10-day trip to Asia, Pence's attention mostly was directed at the North Korean situation.

"Any rise in tensions is entirely due to the provocative behaviour of North Korea", she said.

But mindful that this would likely trigger massive retaliation and casualties in South Korea and Japan and among U.S. troops there, United States officials say the Trump administration's main focus is on tougher economic sanctions to try to get Pyongyang to abandon its weapons programs.

Trump himself, when asked on Monday if he was considering military action, told Fox News Channel he didn't want to "telegraph" his plans like the previous administration. "We will see what happens!"

It also predicted that North Korea was "committed to developing a long-range, nuclear-armed missile that is capable of posing a direct threat to the United States".

The menacing and "highly trained" troops yelled patriotic slogans as they carried rifles fitted with grenade launchers through the streets of the Pyongyang during a military parade on Saturday, according to Daily Mail.

United States officials say tougher sanctions could include an oil embargo, a global ban on North Korea's airline, intercepting cargo ships and punishing Chinese banks doing business with Pyongyang. "They don't want Americans up on their border", said Hickey. The North has warned of a nuclear strike against the United States if provoked. "But we are committed to defending our people and our allies should it be necessary".

White House officials said the economic meetings in Tokyo, with Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso and other officials, are meant to forge a framework for future discussions after the USA withdrew from a Pacific Rim trade pact. He will also visit Jakarta and Sydney.

His economic discussions will be closely watched to see how hard a line Washington is prepared to take on trade.

Stewart said he has confidence in President Donald Trump to handle North Korea and praised diplomatic efforts by Vice President Mike Pence, now in the region, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

China has appeared increasingly frustrated with Pyongyang, speaking out against its weapons tests and supporting United Nations sanctions, while repeatedly calling for talks.

China banned imports of North Korean coal, the country's most important export, in February, and Chinese media have raised the possibility of restricting oil shipments to the North.

Stewart also said while he thinks Americans presume China has more influence over North Korea, China is still key to resolving the volatile situation.



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