Viewing his adversaries in the distance, Pence traveled to the tense zone dividing North and South Korea and warned Pyongyang that after years of testing the U.S. and South Korea with its nuclear ambitions,
Viewing his adversaries in the distance, Pence traveled to the tense zone dividing North 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." AP Photo - Lee Jin-man

USA calls on China to help against North Korea

US VICE President Mike Pence has made pointed statements towards China while on the doorstep of North Korea, saying the "era of strategic patience is over".

In a press conference with Acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn of South Korea, Pence described North Korea as "the region's most dangerous and urgent threat to peace and security" and warned China that if it didn't stop North Korea itself, "the United States and its allies will".

"The President and I have great confidence that China will properly deal with North Korea but as President Trump made clear, if China is unable to deal with North Korea, the United States and our allies will," Mr Pence said.

"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 the region."

Pence said that despite hoping to attain this objective through peaceful means, "all options are on the table" and that "we will continue to evolve a comprehensive set of capabilites" against Kim Jong-un.

"We will defeat any attack and we will meet any use of conventional or nuclear weapons with an overwhelming and effective response."

Pence alluded to prior presidential administrations that had acted with "strategic patience", but that time was running out since North Korea engaged "every step of the way with overtures of wilful deception and broken promises."

Before calling on international partners to "confront North Korea and to end its oppression of its own people", he reassured South Koreans the United States would "continue to closely consult with South Korea and your leadership as we make decisions moving forward".

Pence told reporters near the Demilitarised Zone separating North and South Korea the US has lost patience with the unwillingness of the North Korean regime to move toward ridding itself of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

Pence said that President Donald Trump is hopeful China will use their "extraordinary levers" to pressure the North to abandon their weapons. He said there was a "period of patience" over the years but "the era of strategic patience is over".

The Trump administration hopes the US and its allies will achieve its objectives through "peaceable means or ultimately by whatever means are necessary" to protect South Korea and stabilise the region.

He said the alliance between South Korea and the US is "iron-clad" and reiterated that "all options are on the table" to pressure North Korea to get rid of its nuclear weapons and missile program.

Pence visited the military base for a briefing with military leaders and to meet with American troops stationed there. His 10-day tour of Asia comes as tensions grow in the wake of North Korea's latest missile test.

Pence has warned that the North Korean people and military "should not mistake the resolve of the United States of America to stand with our allies."

The joint US-South Korean military camp is just outside the 2.5-mile-wide DMZ. Pence's visit, full of Cold War symbolism, comes amid increasing tensions and heated rhetoric on the Korean Peninsula.

Pence has called North Korea's failed missile launch a "provocation," and President Donald Trump tweeted Sunday that China is working with the US on the "North Korea problem."

Pence is telling American and South Korean service members that the North's latest move, a failed missile launch shortly before his arrival in Seoul, has laid bare the risks they face.

While the North did not conduct a nuclear test, the spectre of a potential escalated US response is trailing Pence on his Asian tour.

Trump's national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, is citing Trump's recent decision to order missile strikes in Syria after a chemical attack blamed on the Assad government as a sign that the president "is clearly comfortable making tough decisions."

At lookout tower, Vice President Mike Pence sees North Korea from high atop the DMZ

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- Additional reporting by wires