Sunday 22 October 2017

Kim threatens weekly missile tests as Pence arrives in Seoul

Vice President Mike Pence with his daughters at Observation Post Ouellette in the demilitarised zone on the North and South Korea border.
Vice President Mike Pence with his daughters at Observation Post Ouellette in the demilitarised zone on the North and South Korea border.

Harriet Alexander and Neil Connor New York and Beijing

North Korea has vowed to carry out weekly missile tests, after the US vice president warned that America's "era of strategic patience" was over.

Han Song-Ryol, North Korea's vice foreign minister, warned that "all-out war" would result if the US took military action. "We'll be conducting more missile tests on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis," he told the BBC.

US President Donald Trump with the Easter Bunny at the White House Easter Egg Roll in Washington yesterday. Photo: Reuters
US President Donald Trump with the Easter Bunny at the White House Easter Egg Roll in Washington yesterday. Photo: Reuters

His comments came as The White House displayed a tough and unyielding approach to North Korea, with President Donald Trump warning that Kim Jong Un has "gotta behave" and Vice President Mike Pence sternly advising Kim not to test America's resolve and military power.

Mr Pence made his comments as he visited the demilitarised zone between North and South Korea.

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

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

Kim Jong-un has ramped up tension with the US. Photo: Reuters
Kim Jong-un has ramped up tension with the US. Photo: Reuters

He reiterated US support for South Korea, telling his host: "We are with you 100pc."

Mr Pence is today expected to discuss rising tension on the Korean peninsula with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe when he travels to Tokyo to kick off economic talks with Taro Aso, the Japanese finance minister. He then travels from Tokyo to Jakarta and Sydney.

Speaking at a news conference at the UN yesterday, North Korea's permanent representative ambassador Kim In-ryong condemned the US missile strikes in Syria.

He said the US was "disturbing global peace and stability and insisting on gangster-like logic".

North Korea's KCNA news agency yesterday published a letter from the country's leader, Kim Jong-un, to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, marking the 70th anniversary of Syria's independence.

"I express again a strong support and alliance to the Syrian government and its people for its work of justice, condemning the United States' recent violent invasive act against your country," said Mr Kim.

Earlier, China and Russia dispatched spy vessels to shadow Mr Trump's "armada" as it steams to North Korean waters, according to Japanese media.

Beijing sought Russian help in averting a crisis over North Korea last week, as concerns grow in China that Mr Trump is seeking to confront North Korea over its weapons programme.

The US president sent a navy group led by the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson into the region, in what is being seen as a signal to Pyongyang.

Mr Trump described the force as an "armada" and said that submarines were being sent which were "far more powerful than the aircraft carrier".

The 'Yomiuri Shimbun', citing "multiple sources of the Japanese government", said China and Russia had "dispatched intelligence-gathering vessels from their navies to chase the USS Carl Vinson".

The ships are "strengthening warning and surveillance activities in the waters and airspace around the area", Japan's largest daily newspaper said, according to its English language sister publication, the 'Japan News'.

Mr Pence also joined South Korean acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn in reaffirming their plans for the deployment in South Korea of a US anti-missile system, known as THAAD.

A Chinese spokesman voiced Beijing's opposition to the missiles, which China claims is a threat to its own security interests.

The vice president also said Mr Trump was hoping China would use its "extraordinary levers" to pressure the North.

However, a report by Bloomberg said Beijing's leaders had been snubbed when requesting to meet with North Korean officials. "Pyongyang didn't respond to requests from China Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Wu Dawei, the country's top envoy for North Korean nuclear affairs, to meet with their North Korean counterparts," the report said. (© Daily Telegraph London)

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