Pence to North Korea: 'The sword stands ready'

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U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said on Wednesday that Washington would work with its allies and China to put economic and diplomatic pressure on North Korea but added that America would defeat any attack with an "overwhelming response".

Tensions between Washington and Pyongyang have seen a recent upsurge, with US Vice President Mike Pence describing North Korea as "the most unsafe and urgent threat to peace and security" in the Asia-Pacific.

"Just in the past two weeks, the world witnessed the strength and resolve of our new president in actions taken in Syria and Afghanistan", Pence said in South Korea Monday.

The vice president said the USA would honor its alliance with Pacific Rim nations and protect freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, the sea lanes vital to global shipping where China has been staking claim to disputed territory.

During his appearance in South Korea, Pence also said previous administrations have practiced "strategic patience" in the region and vowed that the "era of strategic patience is over".

"North Korea is the most unsafe and urgent threat to peace and security in the Asia-Pacific", he said.

North Korea-US tension is growing.

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North Korea has promised "nuclear thunderbolts" and "all-out war", but any conflict between the USA and Kim Jong Un's regime would likely be bloody and result in the near destruction of North Korea, unacceptable civilian losses in South Korea and possibly Japan, and the devastation of USA military bases in the region by missile and artillery fire.

North Korean soldiers at a military training in March 2013.

Mattis credited China with trying to help get the North Korea situation "under control" with the goal of denuclearizing the peninsula.

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

This undated picture released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on 9 May 2015 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un smiling while observing an underwater test-fire of a submarine-launched ballistic missile at an undisclosed location at sea.

"I have noted the recent report".

Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a press briefing that Beijing was firmly opposed to any words or actions that could further provoke tensions. Lu said Beijing wants to resume the multi-party negotiations that ended in stalemate in 2009 and suggested that USA plans to deploy a missile defense system in South Korea were damaging its relations with China. AP reporter Jonathan Lemire reported from NY.

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