US vice president Mike Pence has warned North Korea that it “would do well not to test Trump’s resolve” amid soaring tensions over Pyongyang’s missile and nuclear ambitions.
Pence, who earlier in the day visited the heavily militarized border between the two Koreas, warned that the US is ruling nothing out in its dealings with North Korea.
Meanwhile, the South’s acting president said Monday after holding talks with Pence that the two countries have agreed on the early deployment of a controversial US missile defense system in the region,
“We have agreed to further strengthen the readiness posture of ROK-US alliance that matches the threats posed by North Korea through a swift deployment of THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense),” said Hwang Kyo-Ahn at a joint conference with Pence.
Pence, for his part, expressed that the US ‘troubled’ by China’s retaliation against South Korea over the THAAD deployment.
Washington wants to achieve security “through peaceable means, through negotiations. But all options are on the table as we continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of South Korea,” he said at the border village of Panmunjom.
“The message of the people of the United States of America is that we seek peace, but America has always sought peace through strength and my message here today standing with US forces Korea, standing with courageous soldiers from the Republic of Korea is a message of resolve,” said the vice president.
Earlier, as Pence visited the nearby Camp Bonifas, a US-led United Nations command post, he said: “It is particularly humbling for me to be here. My father served in the Korean war with the US Army, and on the way here we actually saw some of the terrain my father fought alongside Korean forces to help earn your freedom. We are grateful to all of those who each and every day stand in the gap for freedom here at the DMZ.”
Pence’s first stop on a 10-day, four-nation visit to Asia is set to be Seoul.
Tensions between Pyongyang and Washington have soared in recent weeks, as a series of North Korean weapons tests have wrought ever-more bellicose warnings from Donald Trump’s administration.
The US president has indicated he will not allow North Korea to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to the western United States.
A top White House foreign policy adviser on Sunday became the latest Trump official to warn that while diplomatic pressure was preferable, US military action is very much on the table.
“We have a wide array of tools at disposal for the president should he choose to use them,” the official said.
Also Sunday, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said an international consensus that includes China has now emerged that North Korea’s “threatening behavior” cannot go on.
McMaster said Trump has made clear he will not allow the nuclear-armed Pyongyang regime to put the US and its regional allies under threat.
The consensus including China is “that this problem is coming to a head. And so it’s time for us to undertake all actions we can, short of a military option, to try to resolve this peacefully,” McMaster said.