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VP Pence: US won't tolerate further North Korea weapons tests

US Vice-President warns North Korea against more missile and nuclear tests

SEOUL: US Vice-President Mike Pence put North Korea on notice yesterday, indicating that neither the United States nor South Korea would tolerate further missile or nuclear tests, with attacks in Syria and Afghanistan showing US resolve.

Mr Pence and South Korean Acting President Hwang Kyo Ahn, speaking a day after a failed missile test by the North and two days after a huge display of missiles in Pyongyang, also said they would strengthen anti-North Korea defences by moving ahead with the early deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (Thaad)missile system.

Mr Pence is on the first stop of a four-nation Asia tour intended to show America's allies, and remind its adversaries, that President Donald Trump's administration was not turning its back on the volatile region.

In a joint appearance, Mr Pence said North Korea should mind the actions and intent of the president.

"Just in the past two weeks, the world witnessed the strength and resolve of our new president in actions taken in Syria and Afghanistan. North Korea would do well not to test his resolve or the strength of the armed forces of the United States in this region."

The US Navy this month struck a Syrian airfield with 59 Tomahawk missiles. Last Thursday, the US military said it had dropped "the mother of all bombs", the largest non-nuclear device it has ever unleashed in combat, on a network of caves and tunnels used by Islamic State in eastern Afghanistan.

North Korea's KCNA news agency yesterday carried a letter from leader Kim Jong Un to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad marking the 70th anniversary of Syria's independence.

"I express again a strong support and alliance to the Syrian government and its people for its work of justice, condemning the United States' recent violent invasive act against your country," Mr Kim said.

On a visit to the border between North and South Korea earlier in the day, Mr Pence reiterated that the US "era of strategic patience" with Pyongyang was over.

He said the US would stand by its "iron-clad alliance" with South Korea and was seeking peace through strength.

"All options are on the table to achieve the objectives and ensure the stability of the people of this country," he said.

Possible options include tougher economic sanctions, a global ban on North Korea's airline, intercepting cargo ships and punishing Chinese banks doing business with Pyongyang. - REUTERS

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