SEOUL (The Korea Herald/ANN News Desk) - US Vice President Mike Pence warns of possible military action in North Korea as Beijing continues to call for dialogue.
US Vice President Mike Pence on Monday warned North Korea against “testing” the US’ military power and resolve to denuclearise the peninsula as tensions continue to spiral in northeast Asia.
During his three-day trip to South Korea, Pence declared the end of the “strategic patience” policy under which Washington has for more than 20 years been making overtures, only to be met with Pyongyang’s “wilful deceptions, broken promises and nuclear and missile tests.”
His comments followed a failed attempt by North Korea at test-firing a ballistic missile Sunday to mark the 105th birthday of late national founder Kim Il-sung.
A US aircraft carrier strike group is en route to South Korea, with President Donald Trump calling on a near daily basis for Beijing to more squeeze Pyongyang to change course.
The recent strike in Syria and bombing on Afghanistan showed the “strength and resolve” of the Trump leadership, Pence said, stressing it will continue to “evolve a comprehensive set of capabilities” to defend South Korea including the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence missile shield here.
As the Trump administration hardens its line against Pyongyang, concerns have risen that Seoul and Washington may face a discord in coordinating North Korea policy after the May 9 presidential election.
Some of leading candidates, like frontrunner Moon Jae-in, previously served in progressive governments that traditionally favour engagement with the communist state rather than sanctions and pressure.
Acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn and Pence agreed to take “strong punitive steps” if the Kim Jong-un regime conducts another provocation and called for China’s “constructive” role in reining in the erratic leader.
China is one of North Korea’s few remaining allies and has provided a much-needed economic lifeline to the isolated country over the past decades. Beijing has called for an end to hostilities and recommended that Pyongyang freeze its nuclear program in exchange for military deescalation by the US and South Korea, according to China Daily.
Arch-nemesis Japan has also called for Pyongyang to call of its nuclear program, although US actions have received widespread support amongst the Japanese public.
A recent survey by the Yomiuri Shimbun found 64 per cent of respondents favoured increased military pressure by the US on North Korea. The Japanese government, meanwhile, is drafting contingency plans should it need to evacuate its citizens from the Korean Peninsula, according to Reuters.