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United States carrier strike group heads toward Korea

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F18 fighter jets are parked on the deck of aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson during a routine exercise in South China

Global desk - The US military has ordered a navy strike group to move towards the Korean peninsula, amid growing concerns about North Korea's missile programme.

A US official told Reuters on Saturday the increased presence was necessary given North Korea's recent provocative behavior.

On Saturday night, the Pentagon said a Navy carrier strike group was moving toward the western Pacific Ocean to provide more of a physical presence in the region.

North Korea's missiles are already capable for striking many key US allies, including Japan and South Korea.

Last August, Pyongyang also successfully test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) 500 kilometres (300 miles) towards Japan, far exceeding any previous sub-launched tests, in what Kim hailed as the "greatest success".

On Thursday and Friday, US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping spoke at length in Florida, in Mar-a-Lago, in the private residence of the new White House host, and Trump asked his visitor to do Pressure on Kim Jong-Un to stop his nuclear weapons program.

Tillerson said Trump and the Chinese president "had extensive discussions around the unsafe situation in North Korea".

This is published unedited from the IANS feed.

During a visit to South Korea in March, Tillerson said "all of the options are on the table" in terms of the United States' response to a North Korean threat.

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USS Carl Vinson strike group.

The Trump administration is "hopeful" they can work with the Chinese to "change the conditions in the minds" of North Korean leadership, Tillerson said, at which point "perhaps discussions" between China and North Korea "may be useful".

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told reporters last week that Tillerson will oversee the April 28 meeting of the United Nations Security Council.

The strike group, led by the USS Carl Vinson, is traveling from Singapore toward the Korean peninsula.

"If North Korea were to test some number of ballistic missiles by firing them into the East Sea/Sea of Japan, these warships would have the potential of intercepting the North Korean test missile", Bennett said.

North Korea denounced Thursday's strike as an act of "intolerable aggression" and one that justified "a million times over" the North's push toward a credible nuclear deterrent.

Mr Trump's national security adviser, General HR McMaster, and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, signalled on Sunday the US was preparing to respond to North Korea's aggressive ramp up of its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

President Trump ordered the missile strike after watching television images of infants suffering from chemical weapons injuries. The strike group has participated in numerous exercises with Japan's Maritime Self Defense Force and the South Korean navy, the military said.

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