S. Korea downplays United States vice president's comments on FTA

Pence and Abe agreed that they needed to persuade China to play a larger role in dealing with North Korea, a Japanese government spokesman said.

It is the top US state for per-capita foreign direct investment from Japan, including higher-technology and better-paying manufacturing jobs, said Victor Smith, Pence's commerce secretary when he led the state.

Trump and Abe agreed in February to have Pence and Aso, who is also Japan's finance minister, open an economic dialogue.

He also said, "We are with you 100 percent", adding that the USA always seeks peace.

Pence said that the U.S. and Japan had launched economic talks that could eventually result in a bilateral trade deal between the two economies.

At a news conference at the United Nations on Monday, North Korea's permanent representative Ambassador Kim In-ryong, condemned the U.S. missile strikes in Syria, which targeted an air base after a suspected chemical attack by the government.

Deputy U.N. Ambassador Kim said North Korea's policy is shaped by the Trump administration's push for "high-intensity sanctions" against the country, deploying tactical nuclear weapons in South Korea and launching military action aimed at "beheading" the North's leadership headed by Kim Jong Un.

Pence reiterated that after years of North Korea testing the US and its neighbors in East Asia with its nuclear ambitions, the USA "era of strategic patience is over".

Mattis did not identify the type of missile but said it was not of intercontinental range, meaning it could not reach US territory.

A senior North Korean official has stated that his country will continue to test missiles in spite of worldwide condemnation.

The North, which is intent on developing a nuclear-tipped ballistic missile capable of reaching the mainland United States, defied global pressure Sunday with a test that failed immediately after launch.

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North Korea showed off an array of weapons including missiles in a military parade Saturday before an unsuccessful ballistic missile test the following day.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi repeated China's line that the crisis could only be resolved by diplomacy. Abe has signaled support for the US decision to launch a missile strike on a Syrian air base from where a chemical attack that killed dozens of civilians was allegedly launched earlier this month.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and the prime minister held a meeting at the latter's office shortly before the working lunch, according to Japanese officials.

On top of that, a recent report by the U.S. Trade Representative specifically points to South Korea and China as countries that employ unfair trade practices.

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.

"That deployment of such a defence system reflects a strong defence and security alliance between South Korea and the USA and is a direct response to the threat posed by North Korea", she said.

The Trump administration has said military action remains an option for dealing with North Korea. Tokyo is wary of a two-way free trade agreement (FTA), fearing it would boost pressure to open up politically sensitive sectors such as agriculture.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters over the weekend that Japan might push ahead with a revised, 11-nation version of the TPP despite the USA rejection of the trade accord. "And I share that vision and impatience", Pence told Aso at the start of the talks, comments that could be construed as a warning to Tokyo not to use the dialogue to kick touchy topics down the road.

Pence developed ties with Japanese business and political leaders as governor of IN, a state that is home to Subaru, Honda and Toyota plants, and about 260 Japanese companies employing about 60,000 residents.

As talks began Tuesday, Aso said the U.S. -Japan alliance has underpinned peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region and that trade friction with the U.S. has given way to an "age of cooperation".

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