US VP Pence arrives in Japan to focus on trade

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North Korea's nuclear and missile development dominated the agenda on his first stop in South Korea.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, center, speaks to U.S. servicemen and Japanese Self-Defense Forces personnel on the flight deck of U.S. navy nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan at the U.S. Navy's Yokosuka base.

Tensions between the two nations have been fraught throughout Trump's presidency of nearly three months.

The US administration has come under criticism following revelations that the strike group led by the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson was actually heading in the opposite direction despite an earlier announcement that it would be heading to waters off the Korean Peninsula.

"The United States of America will always seek peace but under President Trump, the shield stands guard and the sword stands ready", Pence added.

Pence made a surprise visit to the Demilitarized Zone separating North and South Korea Monday where he declared the "era of strategic patience" with North Korea to be over.

Pence has used the first stops on his 10-day visit to Asia Pacific to stress the Trump administration's strong commitment to United States allies in the face of hostile rhetoric from Pyongyang. The four ministers are also expected to review President Donald Trump's first three months in office, according to a Japanese foreign ministry official who briefed reporters on customary condition of anonymity.

The official said Tuesday that Japan still hopes to bring the US back into a multilateral framework such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

"I think the path of negotiations with North Korea has been a colossal failure now for more than 25 years", Pence told the Washington Post.

"North Korea is the most risky and urgent threat to peace and security in the Asia-Pacific", the vice president said, standing on the deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan presently stationed at Yokosuka Naval Base in Tokyo Bay, Japan.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence has once again pledged the Trump administration's commitment to defending its allies in Asia from North Korea and any other threats.

"The vice president is well aware that the USA needs to do more in the wake of walking away from the TPP to message US economic staying power", Sumpter explained.

Abe said Japan hoped for peaceful dialogue with Pyongyang, "but at the same time, dialogue for the sake of dialogue is valueless and it is necessary for us to exercise pressure North Korea so that it comes forward and engages in this serious dialogue".

Pence said he had spoken with Trump and by 2020 some 60 per cent of the USA naval fleet would be in the region and Japan's role will grow.

Vice President Mike Pence Wednesday declined to say whether the United States had any role in North Korea's failed missile test over the weekend and said that "the patience of the USA and its allies in this region has really run out - and we're beginning to take such measures diplomatically to isolate Pyongyang".

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.

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