The White House offered another stern message for North Korea Monday: Don’t test us.
“The message of the people of the United States of America is that we seek peace, but America has always sought peace through strength,” Vice President Mike Pence said in a speech from the “Demilitarized Zone” between North and South Korea early Monday. “My message here today standing with U.S. forces Korea, standing with courageous soldiers from the Republic of Korea, is a message of resolve.”
“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,” he added. “North Korea would do well not to test his resolve … or the strength of the armed forces of the United States,” adding that “the era of strategic patience is over.”
Pence, sporting a brown bomber jacket, made his comments during an announced visit to the tense Demilitarized Zone that serves as a buffer between the stretch of land dividing North and South, allowing him to literally stare at North Korean soldiers from afar as he offered his vaguely threatening remarks.
His comments represented one of the starkest warnings to date from the new administration in the days since the rogue regime launched another missile.
Pence told reporters during a separate briefing that the White House was hopeful China would use its “extraordinary levers” to pressure North Korea to abandon its weapons program, echoing comments from Trump’s national security adviser a day earlier.
China, for its part, followed Pence’s comments with a plea for the parties involved to return to negotiations. Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said Beijing wanted to resume the multi-party negotiations that ended in a stalemate in 2009 and suggested that U.S. plans to deploy a missile defense system in South Korea were damaging its relations with China.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, however, said during an interview on “Fox and Friends” that he felt “there’s a lot more that the Chinese government — both politically and economically — could be doing.”
Later Monday, Pence reiterated in a joint statement alongside South Korean Acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn that “all options are on the table” to deal with the North Korean threat and said any use of nuclear weapons by Pyongyang would be met with “an overwhelming and effective response.”
Pence’s visit to South Korea was his first stop of a 10-day trip to Asia meant to focus on confronting North Korea, after Pyongyang launched a medium-range missile that blew up almost immediately during the nation’s latest attempt at military might.
The high-profile failure came as a powerful U.S. aircraft supercarrier approached the Korean Peninsula and as thousands of U.S. and South Korean troops, tanks and other weaponry were deployed in their biggest-ever joint military exercises.
Other top White House officials said a day earlier that Trump could “take action” against North Korea.
National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said Trump was considering “a range of options” to take against the regime but would prefer to “take action short of armed conflict, so we can avoid the worst.”
McMaster wouldn’t provide specifics, but indicated that cooperation with China would be a key part of the U.S. strategy.
“We’re going to have to rely on Chinese leadership. I mean, North Korea is very vulnerable to pressure from the Chinese, 80% of North Korea’s trade comes from China. All of their energy requirements are fulfilled by China,” he said.
With News Wire Services