US Vice president Pence reassures Japan as North Korea threatens 'weekly' tests

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U.S. Vice President Mike Pence assured Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday that the United States stands "100 percent" behind its anchor ally in Asia in working to defuse risks from North Korea's nuclear program.

Tensions between Pyongyang and Washington have soared in recent weeks as a series of North Korean missile tests have prompted ever-more severe warnings from Trump's administration.

"We'll be conducting more missile tests on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis", Vice Foreign Minister Han Song Ryol told BBC, adding that "all-out war" would occur if the USA took military action.

Donald Trump's deputy is in the region to reassure allies fretting over Pyongyang's quickening missile programme, and its apparent readiness to carry out another banned nuclear test in its quest to develop an atomic weapon that can hit the USA mainland.

North Korea's KCNA news agency on Monday carried a letter from leader Kim Jong Un to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad marking the 70th anniversary of Syria's independence.

(AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko). U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, center, speaks to U.S. servicemen and Japanese Self-Defense Forces personnel on the flight deck of U.S. navy nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, at the U.S. Navy's Yokosuka base.

"There was a period of strategic patience but the era of strategic patience is over".

China is one of North Korea's largest trade partners, and the global community has called for multilateral economic sanctions against the regime.

"Because to strike first, to strike pre-emptively, would more or less guarantee an exchange of hostilities", Gompert told VOA, "whereas by waiting to see what happens, [there] is always a chance that North Korea will do nothing".

No matter whether Trump succeeds at getting North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons and missile programs, his actions, comments and tweets are changing how the region views the long-running conflict.

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The draft decision had also sought to urge member states to "provide national experts for participation in the investigation". The team "deserves our full confidence", the Belgian representative to the OPCW told the meeting on Wednesday.

"But at the same time", the prime minister said, "dialogue for the sake of dialogue is valueless and it is necessary for us to exercise pressure North Korea so that it comes forward and engages in this serious dialogue".

China is seriously concerned about the latest developments in the nuclear and missile programmes of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said.

In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters he hopes "there will be no unilateral actions like those we saw recently in Syria and that the USA will follow the line that President Trump repeatedly voiced during the election campaign".

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

"They came back with some really interesting suggestions-sanctions, diplomatic things we could do, secondary sanctions we could do, and obviously, military options", she said. But one thing is certain, he said: "The time is running out for Kim Jong Un and his regime to either behave or to suffer the consequences".

"Trump is posing a hard choice to Beijing - do something, something about North Korea and hope it generates some effects, or face American economic retaliation", said Dean Cheng, senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C.

"I think we have to put this in the context of the president's negotiating style", Winnefeld said.

China banned imports of North Korean coal on February 26, cutting off its most important export and Chinese media has raised the possibility of restricting oil shipments to the North if it unleashed more provocations.

"We'll be conducting more missile tests on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis", Han told the BBC in an interview, threatening "all-out war" if the U.S. took any action against it.

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