USA to Enhance Military Presence in Asia Pacific: Vice President Pence
Seoul, the South Korean capital, is just a stone's throw away from the military demarcation line that splits the Korean peninsula and is within easy range of North Korean long-range artillery.
"While all options are on the table", Pence said, "President Trump is determined to work closely with Japan, with South Korea, with all our allies in the region, and with China" to resolve the problem.
Mr Pence voiced impatience with the unwillingness of Kim Jong-Un's regime to move towards getting rid of its nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.
'But the era of strategic patience is over, ' he declared.
Throughout his bareknuckle election campaign, US President Donald Trump repeatedly called into question a mutual defense treaty between Japan and the United States, suggesting Tokyo should pay for its own security.
North Korea's vice-foreign minister told the BBC Pyongyang would continue to test missiles and would launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike if it thought the United States was planning an attack.
For its part, China made a plea for a return to negotiations.
China is seriously concerned about the latest developments in the nuclear and missile programmes of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said.
Its aim is to be able to put a nuclear warhead on an intercontinental ballistic missile that can reach targets around the world, including the US.
Pence struck a stern tone as he began talks with Abe and other Japanese leaders after arriving at a US naval base from South Korea.
Pyongyang said it may test missiles on a weekly basis, and warned of "all-out war" if the USA takes military action.
During a visit to South Korea, he travelled to the Demilitarised Zone dividing the two states, which technically remain at war after the 1950-53 Korean war ended in a truce and not a peace treaty. Pence pointed out the recent actions of the U.S.in Syria and Afghanistan demonstrated the power of the USA military and Trump's resolve. "But dialogue for the sake of having dialogue is meaningless".
"Those who would challenge our resolve or readiness should know, we will defeat any attack and beat any use of conventional or nuclear weapons with an overwhelming and effective American response", Pence said to loud applause, reiterating that all options are on the table in dealing with Pyongyang.
Pence's visit came amid increasing tensions and heated rhetoric on the Korean Peninsula.
The Obama administration's basic policy of "strategic patience" held that the US government would not engage in dialogue unless North Korea took concrete actions toward denuclearization.
The travels and travails of China's veteran point man on North Korea underscore China's growing frustration in its efforts to broker a negotiated solution to rising tensions between North Korea and the United States.