US VP Pence assures Japan: America is with you '100 percent'

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Monday, meanwhile, that North Korea's latest failed missile launch was a reckless act of provocation meant to "provoke something", but he also stressed the desire for a political resolution to the crisis.

"We've moved beyond failed dialogues of the past and now we've moved into an era where President Trump is absolutely committed to marshaling the energy of the world community, of countries in the Asian-Pacific, to use economic and diplomatic power to isolate North Korea and achieve the goal of a denuclearized Korean Peninsula", he said.

But President Trump gave the North Koreans a clear signal that his foreign policy would be very different than his predecessor's.

Tensions have reached boiling point in the region after an armada of U.S. warships arrived in Korea waters including aircraft carrier the USS Carl Vinson.

North Korea has repeatedly ignored China's calls for denuclearization and other steps to calm tensions on the peninsula, and relations between the two are believed to have sunk to their lowest level in years.

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In response, the general staff of the North Korean armed forces threatened to launch a strike against USA military bases in Japan and South Korea, as well as the presidential residence in Seoul in case of U.S. aggression. Mr Lu added that tension was already high in the region before the latest comments from Pyongyang.

North Korea still has many technical problems to resolve, but the intensity of its current testing worries Pentagon strategists.

"If we notice any sign of assault on our sovereignty, our army will launch merciless military strikes against the USA aggressors, wherever they may exist, from the remote U.S. lands to the American military bases on the Korean Peninsula, such as those of Japan and elsewhere", Ryol said.

Mr Pence sought to explain this policy in meetings with South Korea's acting president and other top officials in Seoul at the start of the trip, which will also include stops in Japan, Indonesia and Australia.

Pence's advisers said the vice president would make the case to Abe and Aso that the USA rejection of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, under Trump does not signal a US withdrawal from trade and economic development in the region. Since taking office, however, USA tensions with North Korea have soared amid a drumbeat of missile tests and fears that Pyongyang may be readying a sixth nuclear test.

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American officials said the missile test-fired on Sunday exploded seconds after launch.

He said: '(Mr Trump) holds his cards close to the vest.

At a news conference at the United Nations on Monday, North Korea's permanent representative Ambassador Kim In-ryong, condemned the U.S. missile strikes in Syria, which targeted an air base after a suspected chemical attack by the government.

The loss of US participation in the TPP was a blow to Japan following strenuous negotiations, especially over opening access wider to its long-protected farm sector.

Meanwhile, in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi made a fresh appeal for calm. While Obama's strategic patience doctrine often receives bipartisan criticism, Lavrov questioned the accuracy of the label given previous US led sanctions against the DPRK.

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The remark coincided with reports that China's attempts to get North Korea to even meet its nuclear envoy have been ignored.

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