World Bulletin / News Desk
Vice President Mike Pence will travel Sunday to South Korea amid heightened tensions in the region between Washington and Pyongyang as the Trump administration flexes its muscle in other parts of the world.
The 10-day Asia visit, which will also take him to Tokyo, Jakarta and Sydney, comes as North Korea ramps up rhetoric and is feared to be gearing up for another missile test.
The autocratic nation will celebrate one of its most important holidays Saturday to mark the 105th birthday of its founder, Kim Il-sung -- grandfather of current leader Kim Jong-un.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi of China -- North Korea’s only backer -- was quoted Friday as saying a conflict could break out "at any moment", adding that there would be no winners in a war.
The statement appeared to be in response to President Donald Trump’s tweet a day earlier that said: "I have great confidence that China will properly deal with North Korea. If they are unable to do so, the U.S., with its allies, will! U.S.A.”
Earlier this week, the U.S. dispatched ships, including an aircraft carrier, to waters off the Korean Peninsula, drawing condemnation from Pyongyang that is already indignant about annual U.S.-South Korea military drills that began last month.
A day before a U.S. summit between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping last week, North Korea conducted a missile test, further provoking Washington and South Korea.
The North faced severe sanctions from the UN Security Council for a series of missile launches last year, in addition to two nuclear tests.
A former acting CIA chief urged Trump to avoid escalating the rhetoric and ignore the North Korean leader.
“We have a new president and Kim Jong-un is trying to challenge him, is trying to get him back to the negotiating table,” Mike Morell told CBS News on Friday.
The appointee of former President Barack Obama said Trump was "making it worse" by sending the aircraft carrier. "It's best to just ignore this guy and to deter him from ever using these weapons or selling them and to build our defenses," he said.
The tense episode with North Korea comes after the U.S. took military action last week against the Syrian regime -- a move the North condemned as unjustifiable -- and dropped the largest non-nuclear bomb in its arsenal on a Daesh target in Afghanistan.