17 April 2017

News Story: VP Pence jets into Seoul with Korea tensions high

US Vice President Mike Pence
Vice President Mike Pence will arrive in Seoul Sunday, flying into a geopolitical maelstrom amid a possible North Korean nuclear test and harsh US warnings about a military response.

Pence's first visit to South Korea -- part of an Asia swing that also includes stops in Japan, Indonesia and Australia -- was conceived months ago, but could hardly come at a time of higher tension.

In the last week, geo-spatial imaging showed North Korea possibly preparing a nuclear test, to coincide with the 105th anniversary of the birth of founder Kim Il-Sung.

US President Donald Trump has warned that North Korea will be dealt with and officials have confirmed that military action is being considered, although has not been approved.

That issue will be top of the agenda when Pence begins talks with South Korea's interim Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-Ahn on Monday, and in Tokyo during talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Both Japan and South Korea are firmly in the firing line and will want to caution against any US military action that could prompt a broader conflagration.

Away from immediate security matters, Pence will try to reassure allies concerned about Donald Trump's commitment to decades old security guarantees and protectionist rhetoric.

US officials acknowledge Trump's message of "America first" has at times been read by allies as meaning "everyone else last."

Pence's message will be that America's security and economic commitments are enduring and "ironclad," according to a senior White House foreign policy advisor.

Read the full story at SpaceDaily