Mike Pence: US era of strategic patience with North Korea over

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Themorningbellbd.com desk, April 17: US Vice-President Mike Pence has said his country’s “era of strategic patience” with North Korea is over.

Mr Pence first made the remarks at the demilitarised zone (DMZ), the area dividing the two Koreas, during a visit to South Korea to reaffirm ties.

His visit comes amid escalated tensions on the peninsula, with heated rhetoric from both North Korea and the US.

He arrived in Seoul on Sunday hours after North Korea carried out a failed missile launch.

On Monday, the US and South Korea launched a joint air force military exercise to ensure readiness against North Korea, according to South Korean media.

Mr Pence, whose father served in the Korean War, visited the truce village of Panmunjom, where the war’s armistice was signed.

Speaking alongside South Korea’s acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn later, he said North Korea had conducted nuclear and missile tests as the previous US administration had observed a policy of “strategic patience”, but this was now over.

“Just in the past two weeks, the world witnessed the strength and resolve of our new president in actions taken in Syria and Afghanistan,” Mr Pence said.

“North Korea would do well not to test his resolve or the strength of the armed forces of the United States in this region.”

He reiterated US support for South Korea, telling his host: “We are with you 100%.”

Mr Hwang hailed the early deployment of the controversial US missile defence system (known as Thaad) designed to protect against threats from North Korea.

The US vice-president said he was disappointed that China had taken retaliatory actions against South Korea in response to the move.

Mr Pence’s latest comments echoed those made by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who warned that pre-emptive military action was “on the table” when he visited the DMZ last month.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow would not tolerate “missile adventures by Pyongyang” but a unilateral use of power by the US would be “a very risky course”.

Mr Pence earlier went to Camp Bonifas, a United Nations military compound near the DMZ.

Mr Pence is visiting South Korea, Japan, Indonesia and Australia on a 10-day Asia tour.

Source: Agencies