The Vice President of the United States Mike Pence, now on a 10-day long tour of Asia, arrived at the second stop of his tour as he landed in Tokyo on Thursday.
The focus of his trip is expected to shift in Japan to trade.
But in an interview with me on Wednesday afternoon, he adopted a harder line: The Trump administration, he said, demands that North Korea abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile programs without any promise of direct negotiations with the United States.
"We have to be honest where our trade relationship is falling short", he said at a meeting with business leaders in Seoul on Tuesday. This strategy is part and parcel of Trump's "America First" doctrine.
But time and again, the regime had answered the overtures with "willful deception, with broken promises, and nuclear and missile tests", he said.
Last week China warned that the two nations "need to stop provoking one another " and that there would be "no winners" if war between the USA and North Korea broke out.
Trump said last week it had been sent to waters near the Korean peninsula as a warning to North Korea, but which headed towards Australia instead.
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South Korea moved to downplay Pence's remarks, with a government official in charge of trade matters noting the comments were directed at an audience of USA business executives.
I asked, if the United States successfully helped liberate East Germany from the oppression of communism then, couldn't or shouldn't the United States help liberate North Korea now?
Taking into account the USA withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement, Aso put forth an idea of promoting free and fair trade rules in the Asia-Pacific region with the initiative taken by Japan and the United States. Join us in a conversation about world events, the newsgathering process or whatever aspect of the news universe you find interesting or important.
"It is our belief by bringing together the family of nations with diplomatic and economic pressure we have a chance of achieving a freeze on the Korean Peninsula", said Pence.
"But at the same time", the prime minister said, "dialogue for the sake of dialogue is valueless and it is necessary for us to exercise pressure North Korea so that it comes forward and engages in this serious dialogue".
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.
Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso stressed the importance of multilateral economic frameworks, saying that Japan and the United States should take the lead in establishing rules of regional trade in Asia and the Pacific. Details on the vice president's meetings with officials in the four countries is scant, but a statement released by the White House shows that business issues will figure prominently, and senior officials from the four countries have indicated that trade is likely to come up.