US Vice President Mike Pence warned North Korea Monday against testing the strength of American troops saying they are ready to meet any use of conventional or nuclear weapons with an "overwhelming and effective" response.
Describing Washington’s commitment to South Korea's security as "ironclad and immutable", Pence said North Korea should not test Trump's resolve, citing his decision to launch military actions in Syria and Afghanistan.
"North Korea will do well not to test his resolve or strength of the armed forces of the United States in this region," Pence said at a joint news conference with South Korean Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn.
His warning comes amid heightened tensions in Northeast Asia over the deployment of an American aircraft carrier strike group. "The era of strategic patience is over," Pence said, accusing North Korea of answering peace overtures "with willful deception, broken promises, and nuclear and missile tests".
"We will defeat any attack and we will meet any use of conventional or nuclear weapons with an overwhelming and effective response," he said, adding that "all options are on the table".
The vice president arrived in Seoul Sunday as part of his Asia trip that would also take him to Japan, Indonesia and Australia. His late father, Edward Pence, fought alongside South Korean troops during the 1950-53 Korean War.
Earlier in the day, he visited Camp Bonifas, an American front-line post just south of the Demilitarized Zone separating the two Koreas, and Panmunjom, a truce village in the middle of the heavily fortified border.
Pence expressed disappointment with China's retaliatory actions against South Korea in response to a US missile shield called THAAD but stressed that Seoul and Washington would go ahead with its deployment.
In Beijing, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang urged North Korea and other countries to refrain from provocative behaviors saying the situation in the region is "highly complicated and highly dangerous".
"The point we have consistently made is that each country involved should refrain from behaviors that provoke one another and fuel their tension further and that they should make efforts to ease the tense situation on the Korean Peninsula," Lu told reporters.
Lim Chang-won = email@example.com