Pence aims to reassure allies as tension mounts with North Korea

Tensions between The U.S. and North Korea have escalated under President Trump.

Pence, on his first official visit to Asia as vice president, will visit South Korea, Japan, Indonesia and Australia before stopping in Hawaii on the return leg of his 10-day trip.

“The most important message from the vice president on behalf of the president is that we have an ironclad commitment to stand with our allies in the region, in their defense,” Pence Press Secretary Marc Lotter said in an interview on ABC’s “Powerhouse Politics” podcast ahead of the trip.

Pence will “reaffirm” the United States’ commitment to the “ironclad” U.S.-South Korean alliance, a senior administration official told reporters ahead of the trip.

“We're going to continue to consult with the Republic of Korea on North Korea's efforts to advance its ballistic missile and its nuclear program,” the official said.

While Pyongyang’s behavior riled the Obama administration, North Korea has taken an even more aggressive posture in the region in recent months, conducting several missile and rocket engine tests since the start of the year.

In a recent interview with the Associated Press, North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Han Song Ryol accused President Trump of creating a “vicious cycle” of tension in the region, and “making trouble” with his “aggressive” tweets.

"Trump is always making provocations with his aggressive words," Han said. "So that's why. It's not the DPRK but the U.S. and Trump that makes trouble."

While Pence will discuss regional security at other stops in Japan, Indonesia and Australia, he will also focus on trade and economic issues, and meet with business leaders throughout the trip.

Pence's visit to Australia, a close U.S. ally, comes after Trump criticized an Obama-era deal between the two countries to resettle refugees.

Trump discussed the agreement to resettle asylum seekers held in Australian processing centers with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in a 25-minute phone call in the first days of his administration.

According to the Washington Post, Trump told Turnbull on the call the refugee agreement was the "worst deal ever."

Top Stories

Top Stories

Top Stories

Top Stories

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events