Pence to visit Korean Demilitarized Zone


North Korea launched a failed ballistic missile test on Sunday. Pence's visit, full of Cold War symbolism, comes amid increasing tensions and heated rhetoric on the Korean Peninsula.

The North launched a ballistic missile from the same region this month, ahead of a summit between the United States and China in Florida to discuss the North's arms program.

Choe Ryong Hae, widely regarded as the secretive state's number two leading official, accused President Donald Trump of "creating a war situation" on the Korean Peninsula by sending American forces to the region.

But he will no doubt address worries in Washington that any new government may slow-walk the deployment of THAAD - a system created to shoot down missiles from North Korea or elsewhere.

"It is particularly humbling for me to be here", Pence told those assembled.

The conservative government of former South Korean president Park Geun-hye, who was impeached last month, had agreed to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, antimissile battery to defend against North Korea's rockets. "But all options are on the table as we continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of South Korea", Pence said at the village of Panmunjom inside the Demilitarised Zone. Apparently timed to coincide with the parade and the arrival of a U.S. Navy strike group in the region earlier in the week, the missile "blew up nearly immediately" after launch, according to U.S.

The missile failure comes as a US aircraft carrier heads to waters off the Korean Peninsula.

"It's there to prevent rockets slamming from the North Koreans", an official said while previewing Pence's trip. "We'll be prepared to execute whatever decision he makes", McMaster said adding that in the form of Ghani Government, the U.S. now has a willing and reliable partner.

President Trump's national security adviser on Sunday said North Korea's consistently antagonistic behavior "is a situation that just can't continue", and he refused to take any options off the table in terms of how the USA will deal with the reclusive nation moving forward.

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Tensions on the peninsula have ratcheted up in recent weeks, amid tit-for-tat saber-rattling from the United States and North Korea and analysts' warnings that North Korea was preparing for another nuclear test.

Abe said that "we need to apply pressure on North Korea so they seriously respond to a dialogue" with the global community.

In an interview Sunday on ABC's "This Week", McMaster said Trump had directed the National Security Council to collaborate with the Defence and State Departments, and intelligence agencies to "provide options and have them ready for him if this pattern of destabilizing behavior continues".

US officials say the Trump administration's emphasis will be on increasing pressure on Pyongyang with the help of China.

Pointing to the quarter-century since North Korea first obtained nuclear weapons, the vice president said a period of patience followed.

The Global Times newspaper, which does not necessarily reflect official policy, recommended that Beijing convey a clear message to Pyongyang: that if it conducts a sixth nuclear test, the Chinese government would support stiffer United Nations sanctions to cut off "the vast majority" of its oil supplies to North Korea. "The type of missile is still being assessed", the US Pacific Command (USPACOM) said in a statement.

McMaster met Afghan officials in Kabul Sunday to discuss strategy in the Middle East, days after the USA dropped the "mother of all bombs" on an underground tunnel network in Afghanistan, reportedly killing dozens of ISIS members.

Recent satellite images suggest its main nuclear site is "primed and ready", according to specialist USA website 38North.

The North's launch came hours before US Vice-President Mike Pence touched down in South Korea where he addressed Seoul-based US troops, saying US commitment to South Korea was unwavering.