White House praises China for efforts to rein in N. Korea

South Korea guards hold hands

The Australian ministers' visit come on the heels of U.S. Vice President Mike Pence's trip to Japan and South Korea earlier this week as part of a 10-day Asia tour to reassure allies of America's commitment to the region.

Pence arrived in Tokyo from South Korea, where he assured leaders of the "iron-clad" alliance with the US.

In recent months North Korea has refused to buckle to global pressure and continued to develop both its nuclear and test missiles.

After North Korea attempted a missile launch that reportedly failed on Sunday, US vice-president Mike Pence on Monday warned the Kim Jong-un regime not to test Washington's resolve, and warned them that the era of "strategic patience" was over.

He said the United States was with Japan "100 per cent" and noted the challenge of living with "increasing provocations from across the Sea of Japan".

Ms Bishop supported the U.S. change of strategy and said all options were on the table, including military action.

At the UN headquarters Monday, North Korea's Deputy Ambassador to the UN Kim In-ryong told a news conference, "If the US dares opt for military action", the North is "ready to react to any mode of war desired by the USA", according to AP.

The North Korean went on to state, during an interview with the BBC's John Sudworth in Pyongyang, "We'll be conducting more missile tests on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis".

Pence also said the US would protect freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, the sea lanes vital to global shipping where China has been staking claim to disputed territory.

The new administration has repeatedly said that it is seriously anxious about North Korea's efforts to develop a nuclear-tipped missile that could hit the United States mainland.

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Appearing on the Fox News Channel Wednesday night, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was pressed about it again.

The Trump administration is hoping that China will help rein in North Korea in exchange for other considerations.

"I've seen that the United States has reiterated it is willing to use political and diplomatic means to resolve this, as this is their first choice", he said.

Guterres singled out the countries "in the front line" of contacts with North Korea - the U.S., China, South Korea, Russia and Japan - and said everybody involved should "make sure that everything is done for the threat represented by the development in relation to missiles and in relation to the potential for nuclear capability not to become a threat to the worldwide community".

Pointing to the quarter-century since the USA first confronted North Korea over its attempts to build nuclear weapons, he said a period of patience had followed.

The Abe administration has maintained it is pursuing a combination of "dialogue and pressure" in dealing with North Korea.

"We will not rest and will not relent until we obtain the objective of a denuclearised Korean Peninsula", he said.

The North Korean deputy envoy asserted that Pyongyang would hold the United States "wholly accountable for the catastrophic consequences to be entailed by its outrageous actions".

That kind of rhetoric has unnerved allies in Japan and South Korea, who would be at the sharp end of any North Korean response.

Jean-Francois Fiorina, a professor of Geopolitics at Grenoble Ecole de Management in France, said Donald Trump believes he can have an influence on the situation in North Korea - something he said is not the case.

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