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Pence avoids direct answer on North Korea sabotage

21 April 2017

While Defense Secretary Jim Mattis denounced North Korea's weapons test as he began a Mideast tour, Vice President Mike Pence offered support to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo amid a trip dominated by concerns about the rogue state's nuclear intentions.

The White House Foreign Policy Adviser travelling with Mr. Pence told reporters that the type of missile that North Korea tried to fire on Sunday was medium-range, and that it exploded about 4 to 5 seconds after it was launched.

Approval ratings for Trump's performance, according to many recent polls, is at record lows for a new commander in chief, but Pence said he "couldn't be more proud" to be a part of the current administration.

Mattis credited China with trying to help get the North Korea situation "under control" with the goal of de-nuclearizing the Korean Peninsula. In line with his campaign pledges, Trump signed an executive order formally withdrawing the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal soon after he took office and is seeking renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

“The United States is troubled by Chinas economic retaliation against South Korea for taking appropriate steps to defend itself, ” he said.

"The only thing we need to hear from North Korea is that they are ending and ultimately dismantling their nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles program", Pence said. He also described the bond between the US and South Korea as "unshakeable" during an address on Monday.

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The unannounced visit at the start of Pence's 10-day trip to Asia was a US show of force that allowed him to gaze at North Korean soldiers from afar and stare directly across a border marked by razor wire.

Pressure on North Korea is crucial, the prime minister said.

North Korea's nuclear and missile development dominated the agenda on his first stop in South Korea.

Speculation that the United States may have used cyber capabilities to thwart the North Korean missile test comes at a time of escalating rhetoric between the two nations. VISA PROGRAM Trump orders federal agencies to look at tightening a temporary visa program used to bring high-skilled foreign workers to the United States as he tries to carry out his campaign pledges to put "America First".

Since taking office in January, the new U.S. administration has called for a turnaround in the USA trade policies to be in line with Trump's policy of "America first".

"The President's decision to launch cruise missiles into Syria at the very airbase that launched a horrific chemical attack, which was the right decision", he said. The trip so far has been dominated by US and allies' concerns about North Korea's nuclear and missile development efforts.

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The official said Tuesday that Japan still hopes to bring the USA back into a multilateral framework such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

"Why would I call China a currency manipulator when they are working with us on the North Korean problem?"

The US administration has come under criticism following revelations that the strike group led by the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson was actually heading in the opposite direction despite an earlier announcement that it would be heading to waters off the Korean Peninsula.

Christopher Hill, who served as ambassador to South Korea under President George W. Bush, recently returned from a trip there.

North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests, including two previous year.

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