Pence visits Japan, turning focus to trade with key ally

Trump China US working on'North Korea problem

In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, speaking to reporters Monday evening, said he hopes the United States "there will be no unilateral actions like those we saw recently in Syria and that the USA will follow the line that President Trump repeatedly voiced during the election campaign". But no one was predicting what might come next.

Behind the heated rhetoric, in fact, Trump's strategy in the region looks somewhat similar to predecessor Barack Obama's - albeit with the added unpredictability of a new president who has shown he's willing to use force.

Susan Thornton, acting US 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". However, North Korea didn't respond to Wu's request to visit Pyongyang, according to South Korea's Yonhap news agency.

Pence made an unannounced visit to the Demilitarized Zone Monday at the start of his 10-day trip to Asia in a US show of force that allowed the vice-president to gaze at North Korean soldiers from afar and stare directly across a border marked by razor wire.

Pence's trip will also feature a heavy economic focus.

A senior North Korean official then accused the United States of bringing the countries to the brink of thermonuclear war.

Kim In Ryong told a news conference Monday that U.S.

"The Chinese often express frustration with North Korea, and disappointment".

America's implied threat of force isn't new, nor is hope for engagement.

China accounts for an estimated 80 percent of North Korea's foreign trade, along with crucial food and fuel assistance. The administration's immediate emphasis, they said, was to be on increasing pressure on Pyongyang with the help of Beijing.

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Other state-controlled and pro-Kremlin media have walked back their initial euphoria for Trump in recent weeks too, but in the past Kiselyov has often set the tone, and his intervention is the most robust stance on Trump yet.

Shortly after, North Korea issued a forceful response to the deployment of a U.S. naval strike group, including the 97,000-ton aircraft carrier, the USS Carl Vinson, to the region April 10, saying it would counter "reckless acts of aggression" with "whatever methods the U.S. wants to take".

Throughout his bareknuckle election campaign, US President Donald Trump repeatedly called into question a mutual defense treaty between Japan and the United States, suggesting Tokyo should pay for its own security.

"But the era of strategic patience is over", Pence declared.

"I don't think that you're going to see the president drawing red lines in the sand, but I think that the action that he took in Syria shows that, when appropriate, this president will take decisive action", White House spokesman Sean Spicer said.

On April 5, the South Korean military reported a North Korea missile test in Sinpho, South Hamgyong province, after which the Japanese and South Korean governments both held emergency meetings.

U.S. President Trump has asked China's President Xi Jinping to take stronger measures to stop North Korea's programs to develop nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence gives a speech to members of the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, April 18, 2017. On January 19, U.S. intelligence satellites picked up signs of activity at North Korea's Chamjin missile factory southwest of Pyongyang, in an apparent readying of a test of two intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

In President Trump's world, Russia's out and China's in.

It remains unclear the extent to which China might step up. In part, it is meant to take the place of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the regional trade pact that Trump withdrew from shortly after taking office. 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 miniaturising a nuclear warhead. "We will see what happens!" Two days after his return to Beijing, North Korea launched the rocket, widely viewed as a ballistic missile test in disguise, further ratcheting up tensions on the Korean peninsula.

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