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WRAPUP 5-Pence reassures Japan of U.S. resolve on North Korea


Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence affirmed Tuesday in Tokyo that they will urge China to play a greater role in preventing further provocation by North Korea.

Wrapping up the lecture attended by some 70 South Korean and USA business leaders, Pence left through Osan Air Base for Tokyo, where he met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and discussed North Korea's evolving nuclear and missile threats.

"We ultimately want this to be about, how do we get more American products to Japan?" the adviser said.

The North has warned of a nuclear strike against the United States if provoked.

"At the same time, dialog for the sake of dialog is valueless and (it) is necessary for us to exercise pressure", he added, however.

Trump campaigned for office on an "America First" platform, saying he would boost United States manufacturing jobs and shrink the country's trade deficit with countries like Japan.

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Late on Monday, Pence reiterated in a joint statement alongside South Korea's acting president, Hwang Kyo-ahn, that "all options are on the table" and said any use of nuclear weapons by Pyongyang would be met with "an overwhelming and effective response".

Pence said on Monday the world had seen Trump's resolve in the past two weeks, with a USA missile attack on a Syrian airfield and the dropping of a powerful non-nuclear bomb on Islamic State fighters in Afghanistan.

"President Trump is playing a very risky game indeed".

"The Trump administration has explicitly rejected President Obama's approach of strategic patience because that led to a stalemate, during which time North Korea's illegal missile and nuclear program accelerated", she told AM. His national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, said the USA would rely on its allies as well as Chinese leadership to resolve the issues with North Korea.

In part, it is meant to take the place of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the regional trade pact that Mr Trump withdrew from shortly after taking office.

Some economists have criticized the Trump administration's focus on trade deficits as a way of viewing USA economic ties with the rest of the world.

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Pence's advisers said the vice president would make the case to Abe and Aso that the USA rejection of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, under Trump does not signal a US withdrawal from trade and economic development in the region. "Most concerning is the fact that the U.S. trade deficit with South Korea has more than doubled since [the Korea-U.S. FTA] came into effect".

As part of its efforts to avoid the manipulator label and a major renegotiation of its trade deal, South Korea has announced plans to import more energy products from the USA, while encouraging its companies to invest more in America. In 2016, US goods exports to Korea, its sixth largest trading partner, totaled $42.3 billion, which was down 2.8 percent compared to the previous year.

"That deployment of such a defence system reflects a strong defence and security alliance between South Korea and the USA and is a direct response to the threat posed by North Korea", she said.

For now, both sides seem eager to downplay potential for conflict, with Mr Aso repeatedly saying that trade friction has been vanquished in a "new era of cooperation". If the United States and the two Koreas "let war break out, they must shoulder that historic culpability and pay the corresponding price", said Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

Aso told reporters before the talks he would not discuss any bilateral free trade talks with Pence.

As Indiana governor, Mr Pence saw first-hand the impact of Japanese car-makers Toyota, Honda and Subaru, whose factories employ thousands of people in his home state.

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