Mike Pence warns North Korea not to test Trump’s resolve

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Mike Pence (centre) looked over to North Korea from an observation post at Panmunjom
Mike Pence (centre) looked over to North Korea from an observation post at Panmunjom

Vice President Mike Pence declared an end to what he called a policy of “strategic patience” on North Korea during a surprise visit to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) on his trip to South Korea.

“The era of strategic patience is over, ”Pence said according to an ABC News report.

“President Trump has made it clear that the patience of the United States and our allies in this region has run out and we want to see change.

“We want to see North Korea abandon its reckless path of the development of nuclear weapons, and also its continual use and testing of ballistic missiles is unacceptable.”

Pence landed via helicopter at Camp Bonifas, about a mile from the southern boundary of the zone.

He received a security briefing from Gen. Vincent Brooks, the commander of U.S. Forces Korea, and then visited the Freedom House observation post in the Korean DMZ.

North Korean guards on the border watched as Mike Pence toured the village, with one seen photographing his visit

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence meets with U.S. and South Korean soldiers at Camp Bonifas outside of the Demilitarized Zone.

Pence stopped in South Korea while touring the Asia-Pacific region for the first time since taking office.

His visit comes just a day after North Korea’s failed missile launch, and one month since Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s visit to the DMZ, where he was notably photographed by a North Korean soldier standing on the other side of an observation post.

Briefly addressing reporters in Camp Bonifas, Pence praised the “unshakeable bond” between the U.S. and Korean people.

“My father served in the Korean War with the U.S. Army, and on the way here, we actually saw some of the terrain my father fought alongside Korean forces to help earn your freedom,” Pence said.

Mike Pence met with US and South Korean military officers near the DMZ

“It’s a great honor to be with all of our forces.”

BBC reports that on Sunday, Lt Gen HR McMaster, the US top security adviser, said his country was working on a “range of options” with China, the first confirmation the two countries were co-operating to find a solution to the North Korean issue.

US President Donald Trump also said on Sunday that Beijing was “working with us on the North Korean problem”. He had stated last week that the US and its allies may “deal with” Pyongyang if China did not.

The BBC’s Stephen Evans in Seoul says US policy now seems to persuade China to contain North Korea while keeping the economic and military pressure on.

China, historically Pyongyang’s sole major ally, has reiterated its call for North Korea to stop all tests, and has also called for a peaceful solution.

Besides Sunday’s launch, North Korea has held a series of large-scale events in the past week including a massive celebration and military parade on Saturday.