Pence: No negotiations with NK 'at this time'

In response to a similar warning made by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on March 17, North Korea's foreign ministry said the country is ready to counter any aggression by the U.S.

Pence, dressed in a green military jacket, said aboard the hulking USS Ronald Reagan that President Donald Trump's administration would continue to "work diligently" with allies like Japan, China and other global powers to apply economic and diplomatic pressure on Pyongyang.

The defense treaty between the United States and Japan also covers the disputed Senkaku Islands, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said Wednesday, using the Japanese name for the islands known in Taiwan as the Diaoyutai (釣魚臺).

(English-Reuters 3082) "All options are on the table. History will attest the soldier does not bear the sword in vain", he said.

Tensions reached a boiling point over the weekend as North Korea celebrated the 105th birthday of their founding leader Kim il-Sung. Many analysts expected that to occur during Kim Il Sung celebrations.

Jong-Un who has thus far conducted five nuclear tests and is believed to possess 2,500-5,000 metric tons of chemical weapons has also been exporting ballistic missile components, technology, and design data via the Middle East. Pence heads for Indonesia later on Wednesday.

The vice president said the US would honor its alliance with Pacific Rim nations and 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.

Trump's new strategy involves engaging with North Korea's neighbors to bring an end to their pursuit of nuclear weapons, Pence said.

He expressed deeply negative views of past negotiations with Pyongyang.

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"Short of launching a shock and awe campaign which would be overwhelming in its breadth and scale there's not a lot else the U.S. and its allies can do other than tighten the constrictor grip on the North", said Alex Neill, a senior fellow at the Shangri-La Dialogue.

Vice President Mike Pence avoided a direct answer when asked if the United States used any cyber or electronic technology to sabotage Sunday's North Korean missile test.

Asked if he envisioned direct negotiation between North Korea and the US, Pence said, "Not at this time".

Mattis credited China with trying to help get the North Korea situation "under control" with the goal of denuclearizing the peninsula.

Recent developments, however, have may have confused that message.

Mr Pence said: "We will not rest and will not relent until we obtain the objective of a denuclearised Korean Peninsula".

It later emerged that the Navy strike group, led by the USS Carl Vinson, which was thought to be on its way was actually headed in the opposite direction.

White House officials say the meetings in Tokyo are meant to forge a framework for future discussions after the US withdrew from a Pacific Rim trade pact. "We want to send an unambiguous message especially to North Korea that any attempt to use weapons of any kind against our allies in this region or American forces overseas will be defeated and will be met with overwhelming force", Pence said in an interview with CNN.

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