Japan could rescue nationals in Korean crisis: defence chief

He said North Korea's measures to bolster its nuclear forces are self-defensive "to cope with the USA vicious nuclear threat and blackmail", and he said his country "is ready to react to any mode of war desired by the U.S".

Always high animosity has risen on the Korean Peninsula in recent months, as the United States and South Korea conduct annual war games that North Korea claims are invasion preparation and the North prepared for Saturday's anniversary celebrations.

One called for "dual-track" talks on denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula - the top priority of the United States - and replacing the armistice that ended the 1950-53 Korean War with a formal peace treaty, a key demand of Pyongyang.

Trump wrote on Sunday on Twitter that China was working with the United States on "the North Korea problem".

On Monday, Pence traveled to the tense Demilitarized Zone dividing North and South Korea, where he warned North Korea's leaders that after years of testing the US and South Korea with its nuclear ambitions, "the era of strategic patience is over".

In South Korea on Monday, Mr Pence said the United States and its allies would deal with North Korea if China did not act.

Trump said that he had a "good chemistry" with the president of China after his visit to Mar-a-lago in Florida, appearing encouraged that he would address the threat posed by North Korea.

"But the era of strategic patience is over", Pence declared.

Still, former White House officials are raising eyebrows at Trump's move and insisting there is a reason why successive Democrat and Republican administrations have kept the issues of trade and North Korea separate in diplomacy with China.

South Korea has dispatched roughly 500 personnel in support of the F-15K, F-16, F-5E and F-4E fighters, as well as other Air Force planes in operation.

"I explained to the President of China that a trade deal with the U.S. will be far better for them if they solve the North Korean problem!"

"It's time for us to undertake all actions we can, short of a military option, to try to resolve this peacefully", he said on ABC's "This Week" programme.

After a two-month policy review, the Trump administration settled on a policy dubbed "maximum pressure and engagement", USA officials said on Friday. His visit came a day after North Korea held a military parade in its capital, Pyongyang, marking the 105th anniversary of the birth of founding father Kim Il Sung.

Tensions have risen as Trump takes a hard rhetorical line with Kim Jong Un, who has rebuffed admonitions from China and proceeded with nuclear and missile programmes seen by Washington as a direct threat.

After 25 years of trying to deal patiently with North Korea's nuclear and missile ambitions, Pence said, "all options are on the table" to deal with threat. "President Trump has made it clear that the patience of the United States and our allies in this region has run out and we want to see change". Last week, Trump said he would not declare China a currency manipulator, pulling back from a campaign promise, as he looked for help from Beijing, which is the North's dominant trade partner.

In a bracing assessment of the tough choices faced by the United States and its allies, Ms Bishop and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull both escalated their rhetoric calling on Beijing to act on Tuesday.

Japan will prepare to send troops to the Korean peninsula to protect its nationals there if a crisis requires their evacuation, its defence chief reportedly said Tuesday.

China banned imports of North Korean coal on February 26, cutting off its most important export and Chinese media has raised the possibility of restricting oil shipments to the North if it unleashed more provocations.

USA officials and experts believe it is some time away from mastering the necessary technology, including miniaturising a nuclear warhead.

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