Pence warns North 'not to test' Trump

People watch a television news showing file footage of a North Korean missile launch at a railway station in Seoul

US Vice President Mike Pence on Monday warned North Korea not to test the resolve of the US "or the strength of our military forces", following a failed North Korean missile test.

He earlier travelled to the Demilitarised Zone dividing the two Koreas, which technically remain at war after the 1950-53 Korean war ended in a truce and not a peace treaty.

The visit came after a huge military parade Saturday during which North Korea showcased apparent intercontinental ballistic missiles, and as a USA carrier group converges on the Korean peninsula.

Tensions between Pyongyang and Washington have soared in recent weeks, as a series of North Korean missile tests have prompted ever-more bellicose warnings from Trump's administration.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said military action is "an option", while an unnamed official told Bloomberg that President Trump was prepared to consider "kinetic" military action, though his strong preference was for China to take a lead in negotiations.

He said the USA and its allies would achieve their objectives through "peaceable means, or ultimately by whatever means are necessary", in a drive to protect South Korea and stabilise the region. "North Korea would do well not to test his resolve or the strength of the armed forces of the United States in this region".

Jean Lee, a global fellow at the US-based Wilson Center, said the next president "will have a lot of bearing on what kind of policy South Korea develops towards North Korea".

Last week, the ministry twice said it had no information to provide on whether Wu would be going to North Korea. Similarly, North Korea is a protege of China and China is behind making North Korea a nuclear power and also helping it in developing ballistic missile technology.

He called for the need for "seamless cooperation and coordination" between the two allies and also said he appreciated the United States for "taking a clear position on China's unfair actions with regard to the deployment of Thaad", adding they agreed to work together so that such retaliation can "end at an early date".

He is in South Korea as part of a 10-day tour of Asia.

Pyongyang insists it needs a powerful arsenal - including atomic weapons - to protect itself from what it says is the ever-present threat of U.S. invasion.

Pence also reiterated that if China is unable to deal with the North's conundrum, "the USA and our allies will".

The bottom line, McMaster said, is to stop the North's weapons development and make the Korean Peninsula nuclear-free.

Pyongyang has conducted several missile and nuclear tests in defiance of UN sanctions, and regularly threatens to destroy South Korea and the United States.

At the same it's increased its military footprint in the region by deploying a naval carrier strike group to waters off the Korean Peninsula.

"We have a wide array of tools at disposal for the president should he choose to use them", the official said.

Earlier this week, Donald Trump's national security advisor said the North Korean "problem" was "coming to a head" and said he believed there was "an worldwide consensus now, including the Chinese leadership, that this is a situation that just can not continue".

The North regularly launches short-range missiles, but is also developing mid-range and long-range missiles meant to target US troops in Asia and, eventually, the USA mainland.



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