Japan and Australia to deepen ties amid North Korea tension


On Tuesday, Pence reassured Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that the us stands "100 percent" behind Japan in working to reign in North Korea's nuclear program, after arriving in Japan from South Korea.

After meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and other world leaders, Pence reiterated President Donald Trump's confidence that significant pressure from the United States and her Asian allies will be enough to keep North Korea at bay.

"We will defeat any attack and meet any use of conventional or nuclear weapons with an overwhelming and effective American response", the vice president said on Wednesday.

Whether Pence's hardened message will persist as USA policy in the long run remains to be seen.

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

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Pence has used the first stops on his 10-day visit to Asia Pacific to stress the Trump administration's strong commitment to USA allies in the face of hostile rhetoric from Pyongyang. The trip so far has been dominated by US and allies' concerns about North Korea's nuclear and missile development efforts.

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

Last week his administration kept Japan on a Treasury Department watch list covering foreign exchange policies of U.S. trading partners, exerting tacit pressure on Tokyo to buy more American-made goods and services.

"Indonesia is a massively important market, this is 40 percent of ASEAN, and there is a notable US private sector presence in Indonesia, but much more could be done to expand that relationship", she added.

While Pence said on Monday he was "heartened" by signs from Beijing on helping rein in Pyongyang, the Trump administration continues to press China over its trade policies, and has targeted South Korea and Japan for alleged barriers to US automobile exports.

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Pence said Trump was hopeful China would use its influence in the region to pressure the North to abandon its weapons program.

Wang told reporters that although USA officials have made clear that a military strike remains on the table, he believes that Washington would still prefer to de-escalate tensions through multisided talks.

As the vice president continues his overseas trip, back home President Trump spent Tuesday focused on domestic policy.

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White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Wednesday that China's decision to restrict coal shipments to Pyongyang was "encouraging" and said Beijing "continued to have both economic and political influence" on North Korea.

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