U.S. Vice President Mike Pence has told Japan that the United States is ready to work with its Asian allies to halt North Korea’s drive toward nuclear weapons.
Pence landed in Tokyo on April 18 after visiting South Korea, where the vice president reassured the region of the “iron-clad” alliance they share with the United States.
Pyongyang has accelerated its nuclear and missile tests in recent years, despite international condemnation and UN sanctions.
"Under President Trump, the United States will continue to work with Japan and with all our allies in the region, including South Korea, to confront the most ominous threat posed in this region of the world, the regime in North Korea,” Pence said after meeting senior Japanese officials including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
“Let me be clear, our commitment is unwavering and our resolve could not be stronger," Pence said. "We are with you 100 percent."
On April 17, a day after a failed North Korean missile test, Pence said that Washington’s “era of strategic patience is over” and that “all options are on the table” in regard to how to deal with North Korea's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.
U.S. President Donald Trump on April 17 warned North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un that he has "gotta behave."
Pence said he was confident that diplomatic and economic pressure could be combined to help freeze North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.
The vice president, who is on a 10-day Asia trip that also includes visits to Indonesia and Australia, said Trump hopes China will use its influence to push North Korea into abandoning nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.
Abe said on April 18 that it was important "to seek diplomatic efforts as well as peaceable settlements of the issue."
The Japanese prime minister also said that, at the same time, "dialogue for the sake of dialogue is valueless and (it) is necessary for us to exercise pressure."
After meeting with Abe, Pence held talks with Japan’s Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso on creating a new economic dialogue.
Aso said further talks on economic ties would be held before the end of 2017.
“Security and economy are two wheels supporting Japan-U.S. alliance for the stability of the Asian Pacific region,” Aso said.
With reporting by AP, AFP, and Reuters