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Monday, April 17, 2017, 17:50

Era of strategic patience is over, Pence warns DPRK

By Associated Press
Era of strategic patience is over, Pence warns DPRK
US Vice President Mike Pence, center left, is greeted by US and the Republic of Korea (ROK) soldiers upon his arrival at Camp Bonifas outside of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), near the border village of Panmunjom, which has separated the two Koreas since the Korean War, in Paju in the ROK, April 17, 2017, a day after the North conducted a failed missile launch. (Lee Jin-man / AP)

PANMUNJOM, ROK — Viewing his adversaries in the distance, US Vice President Mike Pence traveled to the tense zone dividing and the Republic of Korea (ROK) and warned Pyongyang that after years of testing the US and the ROK with its nuclear ambitions, "the era of strategic patience is over."

Pence made an unannounced visit to the Demilitarized Zone at the start of his 10-day trip to Asia in a US show of force that allowed the vice president to gaze at the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) 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 DPRK soldiers watched from a short distance away, one taking multiple photographs of the American visitor.

Pence told reporters near the DMZ that President Donald Trump was hopeful that China would use its "extraordinary levers" to pressure the DPRK to abandon its weapons program, a day after the DPRK’s failed missile launch.

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 US first confronted the DPRK 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," Pence 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."

Later Monday, Pence said in a joint statement alongside ROK Acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn that the US’ commitment to its ally is "iron-clad and immutable."

Pence reiterated that "all options are on the table" to deal with threat and said that any use of nuclear weapons by Pyongyang would be met with "an overwhelming and effective response."

The vice president earlier visited a military installation near the DMZ, Camp Bonifas, for a briefing with military leaders. He also met with American troops stationed at the joint US-ROK military camp, which is just outside the 2.5-mile-wide DMZ.

Pence's visit came amid increasing tensions and heated rhetoric on the Korean Peninsula. While the DPRK did not conduct a nuclear test, the specter of a potential test and an escalated US response has trailed Pence as he undertakes his Asian tour.

Era of strategic patience is over, Pence warns DPRK
A US Army soldier works on an M1A2 tank during a joint military exercise between the US and the Republic of Korea (ROK) in Paju in the ROK, near the border with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), April 15, 2017. (Ahn Young-joon / AP)
ABE FOR PRESSURING DPRK

In Tokyo, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, speaking to a parliamentary session Monday, said: "Needless to say, diplomatic effort is important to maintain peace. But dialogue for the sake of having dialogue is meaningless."

"We need to apply pressure on North Korea so they seriously respond to a dialogue" with the international community, he said, urging China and Russia to play more constructive roles on the issue.

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