Pence evades question on North Korea sabotage

Speaking to US and Japanese troops on board the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier Wednesday, he called North Korea the most urgent and unsafe threat to the peace and security of the Asia-Pacific region.

Japan is in favor of establishing a framework for multilateral trade negotiations such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free-trade pact, while the United States prioritizes bilateral trade talks.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence aboard the hulking nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan pledged to defend U.S. allies in Asia and warned North Korea with the same consistent message that he conveyed during his visit to South Korea.

The No. 2 men in the Japanese and USA governments agreed that "common strategy on trade and investment rules", "cooperation on economic and structural policies" and "sectorial cooperation", such as in investment in infrastructure, would be key issues for the bilateral economic dialogue.

He said that under President Donald Trump, the US will stand up to its enemies with its allies.

Aso told a joint news conference following the meeting that, "Japan-U.S. economic relations that were symbolized by the phrase "trade friction" are a thing of the past".

"That kind of economic and diplomatic pressure will result we hope in the regime in Pyongyang forfeiting their ambitions, forfeiting their nuclear weapons program and join the family of nations".

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The U.S.is trying to ratchet up pressure on North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.

Last week, President Trump said he was sending an "armada" to the Korean Peninsula as a show of force.

(English-Reuters 3082) "All options are on the table".

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, sitting next to Pence at his official residence Tuesday, said that while Tokyo agrees new pressure on North Korea is needed and that there should not be dialogue for dialogue's sake, "Japan also places paramount importance on the need to seek a diplomatic effort to achieve a peaceful resolution to the crisis".

Mattis denounced North Korea's attempted missile launch as he began a Middle East tour, telling reporters traveling with him to Saudi Arabia, "the leader of North Korea again recklessly tried to provoke something by launching a missile", he said.

After the announcement, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster said it was a "prudent" decision to send the ships to waters off the Korean Peninsula to deter the North.

Pence said, "We appreciate the challenging times in which the people of Japan live with increasing provocations from across the Sea of Japan".

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He said that under President Donald Trump, the USA will stand up to its enemies with its allies.

North Korea is the most risky and urgent threat to the peace and security of the Asian Pacific.

The vice president is on the second stop of a 10-day visit to the Asia-Pacific region after visiting South Korea, where he toured the demilitarized zone (DMZ), the heavily fortified border between North and South Korea.

His plane touched down Tuesday at the US military's Atsugi base outside Tokyo.

"GIs hurled fully armed MPs of the South Korean puppet army into perpetrating such risky provocations as aiming at" North Korea's side of the demilitarized zone, said the statement from the Korean Central News Agency, based in Pyongyang, the nation's capital.

A senior official with the Trump administration said the mistake was due to miscommunication.

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