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China, US working on 'North Korea problem'

The U.S. had good intelligence both before and after the launch, said a White House foreign policy adviser traveling with Vice President Mike Pence, who arrived in Seoul in the afternoon to start a 10-day trip to Asia.

The trip comes at a critical moment for the Trump administration and United States allies, after escalated posturing from North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un and growing concerns that the country may mark its most important holiday on Saturday with its sixth nuclear test.

Analysts had expected North Korea to conduct a nuclear missile test around the time of his visit, possibly on Saturday as the nation celebrated the 105th birthday of its founder - Kim II Sung, the late grandfather of North Korea's current leader. USA military officials have said the US doesn't intend to use force in response to either a nuclear test or a missile launch by the North. Kim's No. 2 official accused Trump of "creating a war situation" and said the North "will respond to an all-out war with an all-out war and a nuclear war with our style of a nuclear attack".

Trump, who has proved to be unpredictable on foreign policy, has responded to the recent concerns over North Korea with a swagger that suggests a new, tougher stance.

The US Pacific Command said it tracked a missile launch on Sunday night and said the missile blew up nearly immediately.

The United States, which last week acted unilaterally in ordering a cruise missile strike on Syria, has recently dispatched what Trump called an "armada", including an aircraft carrier, into waters off the Korean Peninsula.

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Instead, they continued to talk up sanctions - principally, by encouraging Beijing, North Korea's No.1 trading partner, to impose crippling sanctions on Pyongyang; and influential members of Congress urged worldwide sanctions on Chinese entities doing businesses in the North, in a bid to make the reluctant Chinese leadership more compliant.

After the rogue state ran a missile test that failed, Lieutenant General HR McMaster said "all our options are on the table" to try to "avoid the worst". So we'll see how it goes.

He will aim to reassure allies in South Korea and Japan that the US will take appropriate steps to defend them against North Korean aggression. China is North Korea's only major ally. The administration's immediate emphasis, the officials said, will be on increasing pressure on Pyongyang with the help of Beijing. "We want to see North Korea abandon its reckless path of the development of nuclear weapons, and also its continual use and testing of ballistic missiles is unacceptable".

Along with his visit to Seoul, the vice president's tour will also include stops in Tokyo, Jakarta, Sydney and Hawaii.

Pence will be diving into a tense standoff along the Korean Peninsula with visits to South Korea and Japan beginning Sunday.

Her response reflected the phrasing of North Korean propaganda, as well as the reality that every person here has heard talk of war for decades.

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The issue has been complicated by China's furious opposition to the prospect of having a high-tech radar system on its doorstep, fearing it could partially neutralize its nuclear deterrent.

"The alliance between South Korea and the United States is ironclad", Pence said.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Monday that he would also urge China to play a bigger role in resolving tensions over North Korea.

Trump turned to Twitter over the weekend to underscore the key importance of cooperation with China on the Korean problem. That led North Korea to issue routine threats of attacks on its rivals if they show signs of aggression.

The KN-11 is North Korea's first large solid-fuel missile and is a relatively new addition to North Korea's ballistic missile fleet.

But he will no doubt address worries in Washington that any new government may slow-walk the deployment of THAAD - a system created to shoot down missiles from North Korea or elsewhere.

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