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EghtesadOnline: U.S. Vice President Mike Pence encouraged China to take action against North Korea while he met with troops a day after Kim Jong Un’s regime defied the Trump administration with a ballistic missile test.

On a visit to the demilitarized zone between North Korea and South Korea, Pence said he was “heartened” by early signs from China and hoped its leaders would “use the extraordinary levers they have” to prod Kim into giving up his nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. He repeated President Donald Trump’s warning that the U.S. would act without China if necessary.

“Either China will deal with this problem or the United States and its allies will,” Pence said on Monday. “We want to see change. we want to see North Korea abandon its reckless path.”

According to Bloomberg, Trump’s team is weighing options for preventing Kim from acquiring the ability to strike North America with a nuclear weapon. The administration is leaning on China, North Korea’s main ally and benefactor, and seeking to bolster missile defense systems in allies South Korea and Japan.

Initial reports indicate the projectile North Korea launched on Sunday was a medium-range missile and failed after about four or five seconds, a White House foreign policy adviser told reporters. That eased the risk of imminent retaliation from Trump, who had sent warships to the region.

Trump is still willing to consider military action, including a sudden strike, to counteract North Korea’s series of destabilizing actions, said two people familiar with the White House’s thinking. Even so, he isn’t interested in regime change and prefers to have China take the lead on handling North Korea, said the people, who asked not to be named because the discussions are private.

Trump has sought to pressure China by linking North Korea to economic policy, including the nation’s currency policy.

“Why would I call China a currency manipulator when they are working with us on the North Korean problem?” Trump tweeted on Sunday. “We will see what happens!”

China’s State Councilor Yang Jiechi and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson exchanged views on the situation on the Korean Peninsula by phone on Sunday, China’s foreign ministry said, without giving more details.

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. U.S. cooperation and diplomatic efforts are also important, he told lawmakers, warning that Kim’s regime is believed to hold a “substantial” amount of chemical weapons and may be able to place sarin on a ballistic missile.

Any U.S. military strike risks leading to a war that may devastate South Korea and Japan, two American allies in striking range of retaliatory attacks. China has backed North Korea since the peninsula was last at war in the 1950s, in part to prevent having an American ally on its border.

Kim’s regime has test-fired ballistic missiles five times this year in his quest to develop a device that can carry a nuclear warhead to the continental U.S. He’s launched dozens of projectiles and conducted three nuclear tests since coming to power after his father’s death in 2011, and claimed in January to be almost ready to test-fire an intercontinental ballistic missile.

Kim showed off a range of long-range missiles at an elaborate military parade on Saturday, including submarine-launched ballistic missiles for the first time and what appeared to be a new ICBM -- though analysts have suggested that some weapons displayed at past parades have been fake. A senior regime leader repeated warnings that North Korea was ready for a nuclear or full-scale war.

Demilitarized Zone

Pence arrived Monday morning by helicopter to Camp Bonifas. He went on to tour the Joint Security Area, where troops from both countries face one another in the heavily fortified demilitarized zone dividing the Korean Peninsula.

South Korea is the first stop for Pence on a previously scheduled trip through Asia that will also take him to Japan, Indonesia and Australia. He will meet with Acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn, who is looking after the South Korean government before a May 9 election to choose a successor to the ousted Park Geun-hye.

Pence is the highest ranking U.S. official to visit the DMZ since former President Barack Obama did so in 2012. Tillerson greeted troops at Camp Bonifas during a trip last month.

North Korea Donald Trump Mike Pence North Korea missile Kim Jong Un missile test US-China relationship US-North Korea