Tensions with North Korea still simmering despite diplomacy talk

North Korea has recently launched ballistic missile tests and threatened to conduct its sixth underground nuclear test.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence walks at the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone which has separated the two Koreas since the Korean War, in South Korea, April 17, 2017. NBC's Andrea Mitchell reports for TODAY that the United States and South Korea flew joint exercises as a show of military strength.

North Korean state media warned the United States of a "super-mighty preemptive strike" after U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the United States was looking at ways to bring pressure to bear on North Korea over its nuclear programme.

Pyongyang periodically warns Washington of the dire consequences of taking on North Korea militarily.

That direction was not evident from North Korean leadership, as state-run TV highlighted a propaganda video showing missile strikes leaving the U.S. in flames.

South Korea's Unification Ministry spokesman Lee Duk-haeng said on Friday all those military exercises meant there was a lot of military equipment gathered in North Korea, as well as the South.

U.S. -based Chinese-language Boxun News, citing a Beijing source, said that Chinese President Xi Jinping attempted to send Wu Dawei, China's special representative for Korean Peninsula affairs, to Pyongyang after his summit with U.S. President Donald Trump.

The North will celebrate the 85th anniversary of the foundation of its Korean People's Army on Tuesday and has marked important events in the past by launching missiles or conducting nuclear tests.

Attempts to knock out North Korean missile facilities on the west coast would be more hard now that the Chinese navy controls the northern extension of the Yellow Sea into the "Korea Bay" area off North Korea's west coast. Successfully navigating the coming days or weeks will require Pyongyang, the USA and Beijing to exercise utmost caution in their decision-making.

The North has said it has developed a missile that can strike the mainland United States, but officials and experts believe it is some time away from mastering the necessary technology, including miniaturising a nuclear warhead.

"The real obligation - the heaviest obligation - is on China". Another U.S. official said the alert status was not restricted to one particular region of China but spread out across the country.

Before arriving in Japan, Pence visited South Korea.

Cha said such a pattern "suggests a provocation as early as two weeks" before the South Korean presidential elections on May 9.

Relying on conventional weapons alone, North Korea is unlikely to survive a protracted military conflict, but this is where multiple weapons of mass destruction come into play.

When BBC's John Sudworth asked Han's message for Trump, he said, "I would tell him that if the United States encroaches on our sovereignty, then it will provoke an immediate counter-reaction".

"I can only say that via deep communications between China and the U.S.at various levels including at the highest levels, the US now has an even fuller and more correct understanding of China's policy and position and has a more rounded understanding of China's efforts", Lu said.

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