Kim's desire for peace deciding factor in US-North Korea relations

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence visits the border village of Panmunjom which has separated the two Koreas since the Korean War South Korea Monday

Pence warns NKorea 'era of strategic patience is over'

It wasn't particularly graceful.

It appears Trump and other USA leaders are hoping China, long a patron of North Korea, will put pressure on dictator Kim Jong Un to back away from his military buildup.

Lu Chao, director of the China's Border Studies Institute at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that the latest test, despite its failure, could be another defiant message from Pyongyang that it will not change its tough stance in the face of USA pressure even though the failure showed that Pyongyang's missile technology was flawed.

China remains the only country with economic leverage over the Kim Jong-un regime.

Pence said Mr. Trump was hopeful China would use its influence in the region to pressure the North to abandon its weapons program.

Experts in South Korea estimate a North Korean "provocation" is likely from "next week until May 9" - the date of the presidential election in Seoul.

Pyongyang is thought to be plotting to attempt a nuclear bomb test on April 25 - next Tuesday - to coincide with Military Foundation Day.

Trump aides declared that Obama's policy of "strategic patience" was over. Then the saber-rattling escalated.

That is the reason why China invaded Korea and propped up the North Korean regime that was about to fall to the United Nations armed forces in the 1950s. "They've all been outplayed by this gentleman and we'll see what happens", Trump noted.

The rhetoric seems to be blurring the lines between North Korea and economic ties with China, issues that previous US administrations had kept separate.

North Korean fury at Washington was rising well before Trump took office, in particular over reports that annual U.S. Army officers who have been through hard wars are rarely enthusiastic about starting new ones.

He told CNN's Dana Bash on Tuesday he believes North Korea is getting the message. Of course they have said all the choices are on the table.

Abe said Japan hoped for peaceful dialogue with Pyongyang, "but at the same time, 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". Although it is possible the extensive preparations around its nuclear test site were intended only to wind up the global community, it seems more likely that the North Koreans did indeed plan a nuclear test Saturday but desisted, probably because they assessed the risks of serious retaliation were too great. Now the administration is turning to old-fashioned diplomacy to try to solve the impasse. The first step is working with China to impose tougher economic sanctions on North Korea. "The UN Security Council adopted harsh sanctions against North Korea and condemned its policy", the Russian Federation foreign minister added.

Trump has said he's willing to make trade and economic concessions to China in return for its help with North Korea. Also, Trump said that if China does not deal with North Korea, he would "properly deal with North Korea". "Therefore whether they were playing volleyball or whatever they were doing - I don't think it's an important factor as to whether they will test a nuke or not". "But a negotiated freeze is the least bad outcome available".

North Korea might accept a freeze of its nuclear arsenal, he argues, because it would preserve its military deterrent against foreign attack.

The North has said such launches are an act of deterrence against a potential invasion by the US or South Korea. This secretive state already has missiles capable of reaching Japan and the Philippines.

"We would have to swallow hard", Litwak told me. "We are with you 100 percent".

That kind of diplomacy won't be easy.

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