US Vice President Mike Pence calls North Korea missile launch 'a provocation'

US Vice-President Mike Pence reacts as commander General Vincent K. Brooks speaks during an Easter fellowship dinner at a military base in Seoul.
US Vice-President Mike Pence reacts as commander General Vincent K. Brooks speaks during an Easter fellowship dinner at a military base in Seoul. PHOTO: REUTERS
US Vice-President Mike Pence and his wife Karen arriving at the National Cemetery in Seoul.
US Vice-President Mike Pence and his wife Karen arriving at the National Cemetery in Seoul.PHOTO: REUTERS
US Vice-President Mike Pence and his wife Karen carry a wreath at the National Cemetery in Seoul.
US Vice-President Mike Pence and his wife Karen carry a wreath at the National Cemetery in Seoul.PHOTO: REUTERS
US Vice-President Mike Pence burns incense at the National Cemetery in Seoul.
US Vice-President Mike Pence burns incense at the National Cemetery in Seoul.PHOTO: AFP

SEOUL/WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA (NY TIMES) - Vice President Mike Pence on Sunday (April 16) described North Korea's failed missile test as "a provocation" that highlighted the risks plaguing both the region and the United States, as the White House said President Donald Trump had an array of military, diplomatic and other options to respond.

"This morning's provocation from the North is just the latest reminder of the risks each one of you face each and every day in the defense of the freedom of the people of South Korea and the defence of America in this part of the world," Pence said at an Easter dinner at Yongsan military base in Seoul, South Korea, where he was beginning a 10-day tour of Asia.

The US vice president also said that his country's resolve and commitment to its alliance with South Korea had never been stronger.

Some 28,500 US troops are stationed in South Korea. President Donald Trump has ordered a naval strike group, led by the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier, to the region, though the vessels remain a long way from the peninsula.

Pence said he had spoken with Trump, who asked him to convey to the troops stationed in South Korea that "we're proud of you and we're grateful for your service".

Earlier, on board Air Force Two as Pence made his way to South Korea, a White House foreign policy adviser said the United States had had good intelligence about the launch both in advance and afterward, an intriguing statement that suggested the United States had the information it would have needed to take covert action against the latest launch, even as it left open the question of whether such interference occurred.

 

K T McFarland, Trump's deputy national security adviser, declined Sunday to say whether the United States had sabotaged North Korea's launch.

Lt Gen H R McMaster, Trump's national security adviser, said the US was developing an array of potential responses to North Korea's latest move, in consultation with China.

McMaster said the United States and its allies would aim to avoid a military response.

Trump had no direct response to the launch, but he suggested Sunday that China was helping the United States formulate a strategy to counter the North Korean menace, and that he was refraining from calling Beijing a currency manipulator in part because of that cooperation.

Pence is scheduled to meet with Hwang Kyo-ahn, acting president of South Korea, on Monday (April 17) to discuss the North Korean threat.