Sun | Aug 20, 2017

US Vice-President warns North Korea 'era of strategic patience is over'

Published:Monday | April 17, 2017 | 4:12 AM
US Vice-President Mike Pence looks at the North side from Observation Post Ouellette in the Demilitarized Zone, near the border village of Panmunjom, which has separated the two Koreas since the Korean War, South Korea, on Monday.

PANMUNJOM, South Korea (AP):
In a trip full of Cold War symbolism, US Vice-President Mike Pence travelled to the tense zone dividing North and South Korea and warned Pyongyang that after years of testing the US and South Korea with its nuclear ambitions, "the era of strategic patience is over."

The unannounced visit Monday at the start of his 10-day trip to Asia was a U.S. show of force that allowed the vice president to gaze at North Korean soldiers from afar and stare directly across a border marked by razor wire. As the brown bomber jacket-clad vice president was briefed near the military demarcation line, two North Korean soldiers watched from a short distance away, one taking multiple photographs of the American visitor.

Pence told reporters near the Demilitarised Zone that President Donald Trump was hopeful China would use its "extraordinary levers" to pressure the North to abandon its weapons program, a day after the North's failed missile test launch. But Pence expressed impatience with the unwillingness of the regime to move toward ridding itself of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

Pointing to the quarter-century since the United States first confronted North Korea over its attempts to build nuclear weapons, the vice president said a period of patience had followed.

"But the era of strategic patience is over," he declared. "President Trump has made it clear that the patience of the United States and our allies in this region has run out and we want to see change. We want to see North Korea abandon its reckless path of the development of nuclear weapons, and also its continual use and testing of ballistic missiles is unacceptable."

In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, speaking to reporters Monday evening, said he hopes "there will be no unilateral actions like those we saw recently in Syria and that the US will follow the line that President Trump repeatedly voiced during the election campaign."

Meanwhile, China made a plea for a return to negotiations. Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said tensions need to be eased on the Korean Peninsula to bring the escalating dispute there to a peaceful resolution. Lu said Beijing wants to resume the multi-party negotiations that ended in stalemate in 2009 and suggested that US plans to deploy a missile defense system in South Korea were damaging its relations with China.