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VP Pence meets Indonesian president on Asia tour
20 April 2017, 04:34 | Laverne Osborne
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When Vice President Mike Pence spoke at the Korean demilitarized zone on Monday, he said that the United States sought to solve the North Korean crisis "through peaceable means and negotiations", after increasing pressure on the Pyongyang regime.
This new stance Pence described, if it becomes formal USA government policy, not only breaks from decades of Washington orthodoxy and conventional wisdom; it also may place the United States in a different position than its key Asian allies.
Vice President Pence, visiting Japan on his 10-day tour of Asia, said the US has launched bilateral talks with Tokyo in the hopes of reaching a new trade agreement. President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the 12-country trade agreement after his inauguration in January.
Trump assailed the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal during his 2016 campaign and announced shortly after his inauguration that the USA would withdraw from the Pacific Rim-based TPP, which now includes 11 countries from Chile to New Zealand. According to Pence, U.S. President Trump was confident that even without military pressure, diplomatic and economic pressures could convince the North Korean regime to cooperate in dismantling its nuclear program.
"This is a signal that PM (Shinzo) Abe is certainly intent on pursuing the TPP 11- so this would be the TPP, absent the US - probably on account of a rising interest among the other TPP players to see what can be salvaged, even if the USA decides to continue to turn away from the TPP", she added. Capital Economics said in a research note on Wednesday a renegotiated FTA would likely mean South Korea opens more of its economy to US companies but would "have a relatively small impact on the economy".
Pence is scheduled to meet Indonesian President Joko Widodo before holding talks on bilateral relations with his counterpart Jusuf Kalia, Efe news reported.
Pence is in the Asia-Pacific region to visit top officials in Seoul, South Korea; Tokyo; Jakarta, Indonesia; and Sydney for discussions on economic engagement and evolving security challenges.
Trump said in an interview with Fox Business Network last week he was sending an "armada" to the Korean Peninsula in a show of force, including the USS Carl Vinson.
After meeting President Widodo, Pence said his administration wanted fairer trade with Southeast Asia's biggest economy.
"Unless you were in a crisis situation where we thought the North Koreans were getting ready to attack us, a preemptive strike against the North Korean nuclear and missile program is simply not a practical option."
Mattis did not identify the type of missile but said it was not of intercontinental range, meaning it could not reach US territory.
His plane touched down Tuesday at the USA military's Atsugi base outside Tokyo.
Pence arrived in Tokyo Tuesday as part of a 10-day trip through Asia.
Since Donald Trump took office, North Korea has launched at least eight ballistic missiles, and there is evidence that the North is preparing for a sixth nuclear test.
The White House said it based its statements on guidance from the Defense Department.
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