China stands by North Korea policy as Pence visits Seoul

April 17 (UPI) — China defended its North Korea policy on Monday, calling its approach to denuclearization “always appropriate” while calling for calm on the peninsula.

Beijing’s foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang made the remarks the same day U.S. Vice President Mike Pence met with South Korea’s acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn in Seoul, Yonhap reported.

“From the beginning to the present, we believe China has been taking the right approach on North Korea,” Lu said. “We hope all relevant countries concerned with the North Korea nuclear issue will pursue the same policy as China.”

In Seoul, Pence said he was “heartened” by Chinese cooperation following the summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, Bloomberg reported.

But the vice president also said “the U.S. and our allies will” deal with North Korea if China cannot do more to pressure Pyongyang, according to Yonhap.

Pence, who is on a 10-day tour of Asia, met with Hwang in Seoul on Monday.

The vice president reaffirmed the “ironclad and immutable” alliance between the United States and South Korea.

“North Korea will do well not to test [Trump’s] resolve or strength of the armed forces of the United States in this region,” Pence said during a joint press conference. “We hope to achieve this objective [Pyongyang’s denuclearization] through peaceful means, but all options are on the table.”

The two sides may have discussed the ongoing deployment of THAAD, the U.S. missile defense system to be placed in central South Korea to deter North Korea missiles.

South Korean news service News 1 reported Seoul’s defense ministry confirmed the deployment plans are “unchanged” and “forging ahead without hindrances,” but is most likely to be complete after presidential elections on May 9.

North Korea has raised the threat level with more missile tests in recent weeks, although the last two tests have ended in failure.

Lt. Gen. Thomas W. Bergeson, the deputy commander of the U.N. Command and U.S. Forces Korea, said the biggest military concern is that Kim Jong Un “is going to miscalculate,” ABC News reported.

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