Vice President Mike Pence arrived in South Korea Sunday to begin a 10-day trip to Asia that comes amid turmoil over North Korea's military threats - including a failed missile launch.
The visit came a day after the embarrassing failure of a North Korean missile test which the USA and South Korea said exploded on launch.
Former ambassador Christopher Hill, who led the Bush-era negotiations to get rid of North Korea's nuclear weapons program, said Sunday that President Donald Trump was "trying to out-North Korean the North Koreans" with his aggressive rhetoric against the totalitarian state. "Frankly, we have no choice!" he posted. Diplomatic actions seem to be the way to go, but that might be much easier said than done - North Korea is a notoriously hard government to deal with, and decades of attempts at negotiations have produced little result.
The demilitarised zone (DMZ) is a heavily mined, four-km-wide strip of land lined with barbed wire running across the Korean peninsula, with soldiers on both sides in a continual eyeball-to-eyeball standoff.
The White House said yesterday's test involved a medium-range ballistic missile that failed within four to five seconds after launch, and that it did not involve an intercontinental ballistic missile, said a U.S. foreign adviser travelling with Mr Pence, adding that the launch was not unexpected.
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China would also face greater pressure from the USA to take further action, including ratcheting up its sanctions against Pyongyang, he added.
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"China can shut them down and we should be ... we should expect them to act to prevent what could be a cataclysmic event", McCain said on NBC's "Meet the Press".
As if North Korea was conscious of the strong posture of these two nations, it did not dare to conduct the sixth nuclear test or launch an ICBM.
Trump acknowledged on Sunday that the softer line he had taken on China's management of its currency was linked to Beijing's help on the North Korea issue. It has said it has developed and would launch a missile that can strike the mainland United States but officials and experts believe it is some time away from mastering the necessary technology.
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President Trump had earlier said China was "working with us" on the issue.
The tense stand-off between the U.S. and North Korea over the rogue state's nuclear weapons programme continued as Washington warned the crisis was coming to a head.
Pointing to the quarter-century since North Korea first obtained nuclear weapons, the vice president said a period of patience followed.
A North Korean missile test that failed seconds after launch may have been sabotaged by a U.S. cyber-attack, some analysts conjectured on Sunday even as Washington's strategic community is spooked over the reach and potency of Pyongyang's nuclear missiles and is wondering what President Trump meant to do about it. They have heard North Korean warnings of their destruction for so long that the threats barely even register. The Trumps spent the weekend at their Mar-a-Lago estate.
North Korea will be at the top of Pence's agenda this week.
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To protect against the growing threat from North Korea, Thornberry said, the USA must increase its missile defense in the region. The U.S. moves an enormous warship to the waters off the peninsula in a display of military might.
But ironically, the affair has left the USA embarrassed; the United States had already dispatched an aircraft carrier towards the North Korean peninsula.