VP Pence meets Indonesian president on Asia tour

Remigio Civitarese
Aprile 20, 2017

United States Vice President Mike Pence paid a courtesy call to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta on Thursday.

Pence has repeated almost verbatim statements from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on the US's strategic patience ending with North Korea, and other military threats by other administration officials.

"We have said again and again all parties need to work together to de-escalate the tension instead of being provocative, because provocation can not achieve the goals", he said.

"We're already seeing our allies in South Korea and Japan and the wider world standing behind us, but China is taking unprecedented steps to economically isolate North Korea, and given the fact that China represents more than 80 percent of the exports from North Korea this is enormously important", he said. He said that US exporters should face a level playing field and the relationship should be "win-win". Just a day earlier, it had apparently unveiled new missiles at an annual parade.

After talks with Japan's deputy prime minister, Taro Aso, Pence said the USA would work with Japan, China and other nations to get Pyongyang to give up its atomic weapons program.

"China expresses serious concern with recent trends about North Korea's nuclear and missile development [.] China is unswerving in its commitment to realizing the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, maintaining the peace and stability of the Korean peninsula, and continue to solve matters through dialogue and negotiations."

He also said the USA will honor its alliance with Pacific Rim nations to protect freedom of navigation in the disputed South China Sea - most of which Beijing lays claim to, despite conflicting claims from other Asian nations.

The Bush administration tried to get them to the negotiating table during the Six Party talks, and the punishing sanctions levied under the Obama administration haven't deterred Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions. We're ready to defend our allies in this region.

Official data from Indonesia's trade ministry puts total trade between the two countries at $23.44 billion in 2016, with Indonesia recording a surplus of $8.84 billion.

If Japan continues to take this leadership role in pushing forward with the TPP, it would be consistent with the joint statement released after Prime Minister Abe and President Trump met in NY in February.

The vice president added: "Indonesia's tradition of moderate Islam frankly is an inspiration to the world and we commend you and your people".

The U.S. military says an aircraft carrier participated in curtailed training with Australia before starting its journey north toward the Korean Peninsula. "History will attest the soldier does not bear the sword in vain", he said. "North Korea would do well not to test his resolve or the strength of the armed forces of the United States in this region". "This is much more than a pivot to Asia - the momentum is towards Asia".

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