U.S. Vice President Mike Pence traveled to the tense zone dividing Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and South Korea and warned Pyongyang that after years of testing the U.S. 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 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 Demilitarized Zone that President Donald Trump was hopeful China would use its “extraordinary levers” to pressure the DPRK to abandon its weapons program, a day after the DPRK’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 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,” 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 U.S. 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 U.S. plans to deploy a missile defense system in South Korea were damaging its relations with China.
Later Monday, Pence reiterated in a joint statement alongside South Korean Acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn that “all options are on the table” to deal with threat and said any use of nuclear weapons by Pyongyang would be met with “an overwhelming and effective response.” He said the American commitment to South Korea is “iron-clad and immutable.”
Story by the Associated Press.