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North Korea's Latest Missile Launch Fails; V.P. Pence Arriving in South Korea; Pro and Anti Trump Protesters Clash in Berkeley; Deaths from Attack on Syrian Evacuation Buses; Turkish Vote Could Change Presidential Powers. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired April 16, 2017 - 05:00   ET




IVAN WATSON, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The U.S. vice president arrives in Seoul, South Korea, just hours after North Korea test-fires another missile. We'll have live reports from the region, including Pyongyang.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): And reaction to that failed missile launch from major powers with a great deal at stake on the Korean Peninsula. We have the story.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Also, we'll go live to Turkey, voters head to the polls there to vote on a newly drafted constitution. What it might mean for the country's President Erdogan.

WATSON: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world, I'm Ivan Watson in Hong Kong.

HOWELL: from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, I'm George Howell.

ALLEN: And I'm Natalie Allen. CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.


WATSON: Let's start the program. U.S. vice president, Mike Pence, arrived in South Korea a short time ago. His plane landed in Seoul, just hours after the latest provocation from Pyongyang, North Korea.

Early Sunday, the regime of Kim Jong-un tried but failed to test another missile. South Korean officials say the launch attempt was made from the port city of Sinpo on the east coast. A U.S. official says the land-based rocket malfunctioned almost immediately and exploded.

CNN correspondents are covering these developments all across Asia. Alexandra Field is live in Seoul; Matt Rivers is in Beijing and Will Ripley is one of the few Western journalists in North Korea right now.

And we are going to start with Alex.

And what more can you tell us about, apparently, this failed missile launch from North Korea?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we are learning what U.S. officials know. They believe this was a failed attempt, that the launch failed within four to five seconds from the time it was launched and at the site where there was a previous attempt earlier this month.

This kind of missile launch test doesn't come as any surprise. It's not taken the world by surprise. Tensions have been very high on the Korean Peninsula this week. And there was a great deal of expectation that Kim Jong-un, North Korea's dictator, would try to pull off some kind of provocative action.

There had been suggestions coming out of Washington, coming out of the U.S. that evidence shows that that country is ready to pull off its sixth nuclear test. At any moment, there had been some speculation that they could conduct a test like that to coincide with the holiday they celebrated in North Korea yesterday, which is the most important day on the calendar.

That didn't come to bear. But when day broke in the region, there was what is being called this failed missile launch.

The big question for everyone was how the U.S. would react if Pyongyang decided to carry through with some kind of provocative measure. We'll remind our viewers here, Ivan, that they have moved U.S. warships into the region, the waters off the Korean Peninsula, as a deterrent against provocation from Pyongyang.

But all indications we're getting from Washington right now are that there really wouldn't be a reaction. They have acknowledged that a failed test happened and really there will be no response beyond that.

The thinking there is that there's no need to give anymore attention to Kim Jong-un, no more focus to Pyongyang at the moment because of this failed attempt, which again flouts so many sanctions that have been handed down. This is the fifth attempted ballistic missile launch, just since the start of the year, it follows last year's unprecedented number of launches -- Ivan.

WATSON: All right, thanks, Alex.

We are going to go now to the north of the demilitarized zone to Will Ripley, standing by in Pyongyang.

Will, do you have the opportunity to ask North Korean officials about this reported missile launch and apparent failure?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we had a meeting with North Korean officials today, Ivan. And certainly, there are members of the North Korean government, people who are elite, who have access to outside media, who are aware of these reports.

However, there will be no official comment, no acknowledgement by North Korea that this happened because, as a general rule, North Korea doesn't report about their military tests when they are failures. However they do herald and trumpet their successes. And we have seen

in the past when there have been successful missile launches, photos and videos released, showing the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, presiding over the site, giving the order and when North Korea tries to launch another missile -- because it's not if but when and if it is a success, then you can expect an announcement, a similar announcement, from the North Koreans.

Might now happen immediately, though. Sometimes these things are, you know, the videos are edited, they're screened, they're approved and then the news comes out inside North Korea up to 24 hours after the event, even though the rest of the world might have been talking about it for quite some time. That's just how it works here.

WATSON: Will, you heard Alex talking there about how these ballistic missiles, the nuclear tests are all banned, according to United Nations Security Council resolutions. When you ask --


WATSON: -- North Korean officials about that, how do they respond?

RIPLEY: Well, they don't think that it's fair. They think that other countries have been allowed to develop and obtain nuclear arsenals and successful missile progress. And they feel, the mindset here, it's a militaristic mindset, where it's almost like North Korea against the world.

Even their closest ally or patron, if you will, China, still in so many ways there's an adversary relationship there. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has never met with Chinese president Xi Jinping. He's never met with Vladimir Putin or really any other world leaders.

The most high-profile meeting that he had was early on, when he came to power, and he met with Dennis Rodman, the NBA star.

So this is not a country that feels that it has many close friends. This is a country that feels that it has taken a difficult path, has had to go it alone. But they are convinced that their system is the right system. At least, the government that is in power is convinced of that.

And in this authoritarian country where political dissent is not tolerated, anybody you ask on the streets tell you that they also feel that this is the right path for the country.

And so they feel justified in developing these weapons as an insurance policy to protect their national sovereignty. They say, Ivan, they don't want to use them but they are not afraid to use them if they are provoked or if they feel cornered by the United States.

WATSON: All right.

I'm going to turn now to China and our man in Beijing, that's Matt Rivers, who's standing by. And, Matt, we are hearing reports now that U.S. secretary of state

Tillerson, Rex Tillerson, just spoke with the Chinese top diplomat, presumably about Korea. We know that Washington has been pressing Beijing for years, decades, to come down harder on North Korea and its program for developing weapons of mass destruction.

You can almost imagine how some of that phone conversation may have played out, right?

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, no details yet on the call between Yang Jiechi, the top diplomat here in China, and secretary of state Rex Tillerson but you are right, both sides, Ivan, have really made their positions known, quite clearly.

On the U.S. side, they very strongly believe, under the Trump administration, that China should be using its economic leverage, that it has quite a bit of over Pyongyang, to get the Kim Jong-un regime to stop developing these weapons, to stop testing the nuclear devices and to stop testing the missiles.

But what China, very swiftly and consistently argues is that the United States needs to return to the negotiating table, that if Washington and Pyongyang don't sit down and talk, there can be no lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula. These are long held positions from both sides.

And the question moving forward, is there any middle ground there?

Can there be some sort of an agreement that can become to between China and the United States?

And that would go a long way toward potentially solving this ongoing crisis in North Korea.

But at least at the moment, Ivan, the two sides do seem to be pretty far apart.

WATSON: And quickly, Matt, any official confirmation from the Chinese about the alleged North Korean missile launch?

RIVERS: The Chinese, no. As far as we heard, so far, we have gotten no statement from the ministry of foreign affairs on this. But, they usually will acknowledge it. It just could be that it's a Sunday and they are not really responding. But we haven't heard anything specifically. But they are consistent. They always condemn it. They say that these launches violate international law and they only serve to make an already tense situation that much worse.

WATSON: That's right. Some people do take a day of rest today.

Let's go back to South Korea, to Alexandra Field, who happens to be at the headquarters for the U.S. military in South Korea.

And the U.S. vice president, Mike Pence, just arrived in South Korea.

What kind of message is he bringing to this long-time American ally, which is right next door to North Korea?

FIELD: Look, everything about this trip, Ivan, is designed to reflect and endorse the alliance between the U.S. and South Korea, a very longstanding alliance, some 60 years now. This is the headquarters for the U.S. military in South Korea.

It's also the headquarters for the combined command here. So these are two militaries that work closely together, some 30,000 servicemen and women who live here, working hand in hand with hundreds of thousands of Korean service members.

That's the reason why the vice president, Mike Pence, is coming here, he's having an Easter service with the troops, both from the U.S. and South Korea and then having a dinner with them.

It is an affirmation of the alliance between these two countries. It's also a personal trip, to some extent, for Vice President Mike Pence, who is escorted by his family.

His father is a Korean War veteran who earned a Bronze Star. So this trip started for Vice President Pence with a visit to the cemetery, the national cemetery here, to honor those who fought. He then came here to meet with troops. But it gets serious after this point. He goes --


FIELD: -- on to meet with the acting president of South Korea, and from here he'll go on to Tokyo, where he will meet with the prime minister. And they will be tackling head-on the question about what to do to counter the growing North Korean nuclear threat.

You had another provocation, again, from North Korea this morning, that failed missile launch. But what they are really talking about now is a wider view, the long-term strategy. The secretary of state from the U.S. had been out here last month announcing that the era of strategic patience was over.

So what is the response now?

What role will the U.S. try to take?

What will the allies be asked to do?

Those are all questions that the vice president will be talking about as he continues his tour through Asia -- Ivan.

WATSON: And, Alex, this isn't just a time of regional tension; it's also a time of deep uncertainty in South Korea, this critical American ally, with big questions about the future leadership of the country right now, right?

FIELD: Right. You've had an elected presidents who was impeached and ousted from office. Now you've got an acting president who has been tasked with meeting with these high-level U.S. officials and trying to chart this course forward. The vice president, the secretary of state, the Secretary of Defense.

But this acting president won't even be in office in a couple of weeks. And it's important right now, during the presidential election, to take the pulse of the country. That previous president was impeached, she was a Conservative Party president.

The Conservative Party had been in power for some 10 years in South Korea and they advocate a very tough stance toward North Korea. The candidates who are leading in the polls right now are a Democratic Party candidate and a Center Left candidate. And those are parties which have traditionally taken a different kind of approach to North Korea, have argued for more open communication.

And they've been somewhat more resistant to the U.S. missile defense system that the Conservative Party here in South Korea had signed off on. So that's sort of a wild card factor here.

Who is the next president and how could that next president's administration intend to shape policy toward North Korea and continue to work on its relationship with the U.S.?

It's a bit awkward, timewise, to say the least -- Ivan.

WATSON: It's a good point.

Now, Will Ripley, I think you are still standing by in Pyongyang. I know that this is just the latest of many trips you have made to the Hermit Kingdom. And I'm wondering, in this sleepless week of reporting that you have had there, if there are any takeaways that you have come away from this latest week of reporting and at this time of tension in the region?

RIPLEY: Yes, this is my 11th trip to the country. And I have to say, this is probably the first time that I have had what I would consider to be some very authentic, fairly deep conversations with North Koreans, both in the government capacity or those working for nongovernment agencies.

We see a lot of officials at the military parade and other events that were hosted for the international media. So I have had discussions with North Koreans, ranging from older, 50s, 60s, to North Koreans in their 20s and early 30s.

And the younger generation here, many of them speak fluent English, they're well educated, they're aware of what's happening in the world. And yet they firmly believe that their system is the right system. They say that they believe and that in their leader, Kim Jong-un. But they also desire more prosperity for North Korea.

They desire a seat at the table for North Korea in the international community. They hope for a peaceful environment, where North Korea, with its system, is allowed to exist. They hope for reunification of the Korean Peninsula for the North and South to come together but in a way that still allows their system, their socialist system, to survive. And what strikes me is the depth of these conversations. These are

not robotic people who've been consuming propaganda and don't have individual opinions, they do. And they can acknowledge the strengths and the weaknesses of other countries, including the United States and its system. And they still strongly believe that they have a right to exist as a country.

And that's what they say they hope for. And so putting politics aside, putting the government aside, I hope that someday the North Korean people do have an opportunity to interact with the global community because I think that there are a lot of smart minds here. And people have a lot to offer the world.

WATSON: That's a good note to end on there.

I want to thank our excellent correspondents for sharing their expertise and their input from different sides of the region. So we have Alexandra Field in South Korea, Will Ripley in North Korea and Matt Rivers in the Chinese capital.

Thank you to all of you.

Moving on, in the wake of North Korea's failed missile test, here is a brief look at the history of the Hermit Kingdom's weapons and missile development programs.

Last June, the regime test-fired an intermediate-range ballistic missile called the Musudan. It flew about 400 kilometers --


WATSON: -- before landing in the sea.

In August, Pyongyang had its most successful test-firing of a submarine-launched missile.

A month later, North Korea conducted its most powerful nuclear test to date, a blast estimated at 10 kilotons.

In February this year, Pyongyang fired a new ballistic missile, the Kn-15, that traveled some 500 kilometers.

Last month, the regime fired four ballistic missiles eastward, and three of them landed within 200 nautical miles of Japan's coastline.

And on April 5th, less than two weeks ago, North Korea launched another missile that landed in the sea off its east coast.

Earlier, I spoke to Martin Navias, he's a senior fellow at the Centre for Defence Studies at King's College, London. And I asked him if there's anything Washington can do to stop North Korea and its efforts to develop nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles.


MARTIN NAVIAS, SENIOR FELLOW, CENTRE OF DEFENCE STUDIES, KING'S COLLEGE: I think there's still an option for negotiation. For some time now there's been talk of entering what we'd term a grand bargain with the North Koreans. I mean, President Trump has already indicated his willingness to talk to Kim Jong-un.

And I think, provided the United States and its allies set realistic objectives, then an agreement could possibly be reached with the North Koreans. And to understand what you can achieve, we must understand two things.

Number one, the North Koreans will never give up their nuclear weapons. That horse has long bolted. Anybody who talks about the North Koreans being prepared to denuclearize is living in a fantasy world. We are going to have to accept that the North Koreans will continue whatever agreement is reached to retain their nuclear weapons.

The second parameter of these discussions is this, that I cannot believe that any U.S. administration would tolerate the capability of the North Koreans to target the continental United States with nuclear armed missiles.

So within those two parameters, negotiations are going to have to take place.

I think there's still an option for negotiation. For some time now there's been talk of entering what we'd term a grand bargain with the North Koreans. I mean, President Trump has already indicated his willingness to talk to Kim Jong-un.

And I think, provided the United States and its allies set realistic objectives, then an agreement could possibly be reached with the North Koreans. And to understand what you can achieve, we must understand two things.

Number one, the North Koreans will never give up their nuclear weapons. That horse has long bolted. Anybody who talks about the North Koreans being prepared to denuclearize is living in a fantasy world. We are going to have to accept that the North Koreans will continue whatever agreement is reached to retain their nuclear weapons.

The second parameter of these discussions is this, that I cannot believe that any U.S. administration would tolerate the capability of the North Koreans to target the continental United States with nuclear armed missiles.

What we can see in the next few weeks even or months is a North Korean test of a very long range missile. And then the United States has to decide what to do.

There's been talk of Americans trying to shoot down that missile. There is a weapon called the Aegis III Block 2A, which apparently, according to some reports, can shoot down an ICBM test in its same phase. Whether that is possible, I don't know. That's all classified material. I'm not even sure if that weapon exists in deployable form yet. But if such a thing happens, well, obviously, yes, a miscalculation

could lead to escalation, even if both parties don't want to escalate.


WATSON: That's my earlier conversation with Martin Navias, King's College, London.

I'm going to turn it over now to George Howell and Natalie Allen from more of the world's news from CNN World Headquarters.

HOWELL: Ivan, thank you.

Still ahead, they were finally leaving their homes when they were attacked. We'll tell you about the blast that could end the fragile evacuation deal in Syria.

ALLEN: Also Turkey could make history this day as voters go to the polls. We'll take you live to Istanbul and tell you what that is about.





ALLEN: From Syria now, families were on their way to safety but at least 100 people were killed near Aleppo, a blast targeted buses evacuating Shiite villagers who backed President Bashar al-Assad.

HOWELL: And that was under a deal that also allowed the relocation of rebel supporters from other besieged areas. Our Nick Paton Walsh has the latest.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SR. INTL. CORRESPONDENT: Dozens of bodies recovered from this scene, absolute carnage, pictures posted on social media, Syrian state television, very hard to see, frankly. People torn apart in their seats on these buses.

They had hoped perhaps this was a journey on the way to a moment of respite. I'll give you a context as to why these evacuation buses were quite so important.

The ones attacked were leaving two towns north of Syria, Foua and Kefraya. Now these are full of regime sympathizers but were in a rebel-held province of Idlib and besieged, had been for months, years.

Also in the south of the country were towns full of rebel sympathizers, Madaya and Zabadani. But they were besieged by the regime. So the U.N. brokered a kind of swap, if you like, allowing a simultaneous evacuation of these two towns that were regime-loyal in the north, Foua, Kefraya, while rebel sympathizing towns in the south, Zabadani and Madaya, were also being evacuated.

But it was those who were leaving Foua and Kefraya, the regime-loyal town, that came under attack today. We don't know precisely whose territory they were in when this blast hit. But we think it was a car bomb and it does appear to be that the evacuation still continued after this tragic, horrifying episode.

In the past, buses from Foua and Kefraya headed there have come under attack from people who clearly were extremists. It wasn't quite clear which group they were affiliated with but nothing like the scale of the devastation today.

This, of course, has many worried in rebel sympathizing areas of some sort of regime reprisal as a result of it but still eyes focused very much on the terrifying toll on civilians in those buses.

As I say, dozens of people of the 3,000 who were leaving Foua and Kefraya, losing their life from this car bomb as they felt they were on their way to safety. These towns had suffered from besieging, starvation, lack of medical supplies for months.

These swaps, some say, will alleviate that suffering but, at the same time, do potentially change the demographic ethnic map of Syria permanently, taking regime sympathizers away from rebel areas entirely, they're often here with rebel areas often Sunni, Syria still seeing absolute savagery on both sides now as this war limps into its seventh year -- Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Irbil, Northern Iraq.


ALLEN: Terrible to see there in Syria.

Now we turn to Turkey, voters are heading to the polls there.

HOWELL: Their vote will decide whether to give the country's president sweeping new powers.


HOWELL: The so-called power bill would change Turkey from a constitutional democracy into a presidential republic.

ALLEN: The referendum requires a simple majority. Ian Lee is standing by for us at a polling station in Istanbul to tell us ore about what this is about.

Hello, Ian.

IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Natalie. We have been seeing people come in and out all day. Historically, Turkey has high turnouts in these some sort of votes and referendums. It really boils down to a yes-and-no vote.

A yes would shift the country from the parliamentary system to a presidential system. Those who support it say that it will give the president more power to strengthen the economy and also stabilize the country.

Those who oppose it, those in the no camp, say that it doesn't have enough checks and balances. It will give the president too much power over making of laws and the judiciary.

So quite an historic referendum. In the lead-up to this also, Natalie, there's been a heavy security presence across the country. Dozens of people who are suspected to having ties to ISIS have been arrested, according to state media.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you so much. General Brooks, it is --

ALLEN: All right, the vice president is now speaking in South Korea. We'll listen in.

PENCE: -- let me invite a round of applause from all the great soldiers and their families who are gathered here for General Vincent Brooks and the great leadership that he provides here to United States Forces Korea.


PENCE: General, we are proud -- grateful for your leadership.

To Chaplain Kim, to Chaplain Wasaki (ph) and to all of those who made the service so special to us, my daughter Audrey already told me that was one of the best sermons she's heard in a year and a half. So what a special Easter sermon.


PENCE: And we are just honored to be with you all today and looking forward just to some good food and to some good fellowship. But it is a pleasure to be with you today. On behalf of my wife, Karen, and our two daughters, happy Easter in South Korea. It's a joy to be with you all.


PENCE: I bring greetings this morning from your commander in chief, President Donald Trump.


PENCE: I spoke to the president early today and I spoke to him on the way over. And he asked me to be here and he told me in no uncertain terms to make sure that I told all of you we're proud of you and we are grateful for your service to the United States of America on this frontier of freedom that is South Korea.


PENCE: In fact, I can say with confidence that every American is proud of your service here and the attention that this part of the world has gotten from people back home is probably no surprise to all of you who are gathered here today. This morning's provocation from the North is just the latest reminder of the risks each one of you face every day in the defense of the freedom of the people of South Korea and the defense of America in this part of the world.

Your willingness to step forward, to serve, to stand firm without fear inspires our nation and inspires the world. And it's an honor for us to share this meal with you today. Thank you for your service.


PENCE: And let me say, as the General mentioned, as proud parents of a United States Marine --



PENCE: It is the greatest privilege of my life to serve as Vice President to a President who cares so deeply about the men and women of our armed forces and their families.

Now days like today make me think of the separation that comes at special times of the year for those who serve. And so would all of you in uniform join me in giving a rousing round of applause to the family members who are here and the family members far away. We appreciate their service and their support as you serve our nation in uniform.


PENCE: And let me promise those family members and all of you in uniform here today that under President Trump's leadership, we're going to rebuild our military. We're going to restore the arsenal of democracy.

We're going to give our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guard the resources you need and deserve to accomplish the mission you are given and come home safe. That's a promise from your commander in chief.


This is a challenging time all over the world, but especially here in the Asia Pacific. The opportunity for me to be here today at such a time as this is a great privilege for me, but let me assure you under President Trump's leadership, our resolve has never been stronger. Our commitment to this historic alliance with the courageous people of South Korea has never been stronger. And with your help and with God's help, freedom will ever prevail on this peninsula.


But it is Easter Sunday and as I look out at all these courageous Americans and courageous Koreans who are gathered here today, I'm deeply humbled. I truly am. We celebrate today what Karen and I and those of us gathered here recall as that Resurrection Sunday and that worship service was so sublime.

But it puts me to mind of one of my favorite stories in the old book. It's the story of a moment where the Nazarene encountered a soldier. The soldier walked up to him and told him that he had someone ill in his home and he asked if he might take action to be helpful.

And as Jesus began to walk with him, he said, no, you don't need to come with me. He said, I'm a man under authority. He said, I tell one to do this and he does it. I tell another to do this and he does it. He said, you just say the word and that servant under my household will be healed.

The words that ever struck me from that story were there at that crossroads, the story recalls in a little town called Capernaum. It simply said that Jesus was amazed.

At no other point in any of the stories of his life do I hear that he was amazed, except when he was speaking to a soldier because he saw orientation to authority and he saw faith.

Let me say on this most holy of days, for those of us who claim Christ as Lord, we're amazed, too. We're humbled. We look out today and we see courage writ large in the soldiers and the families who are gathered here.

And I just want to assure you on behalf of the people all across the United States that in these troubled times, in this part of the world, your courage and your valor still amazes the American people.

So we just wanted to come and say thank you, say thank you for your service and thank you, General, for your leadership and the leadership and service of all those represented here, carrying on a tradition and a commitment to freedom here on this peninsula that is now more than six decades in the running; and succeeding far beyond those who carved this free society in this ancient land could possibly have imagined, perhaps, is the American soldier shoulder-to-shoulder with the Korean people who fought for and won the freedom more than six decades ago.

And I stand before you today very moved on this Easter Sunday because one of those soldiers more than six days ago -- 60 years ago was my dad.

As we landed today on the peninsula, I looked out at those rolling hills and I thought about Second Lieutenant Edward J. Pence, who was with the 45th Infantry Division of the United States Army. Dad served here in combat. It was in this month -- this very week -- in 1953 that my dad was awarded a Bronze Star --


PENCE: -- here in Korea for action in combat.

But like so many who have worn the uniform and come home, my dad didn't think the heroes were the ones that came home. Whenever he spoke of his time here in Korea, he spoke of the ones that didn't come home. He spoke of friends lost, sacrifices made.

And so on this day I think of my dad, gone 29 years now, but still enshrined in the hearts of everyone in our family. And I think of what dad would be thinking about and I believe is thinking about as he looks down to see his third son return to that place that he left so many years ago and to see that the sacrifices that were made here and the commitment that endures here has resulted in a free and prosperous South Korea.

And so it shall ever be.

So for the sake of all of you who wear the uniform today, for the sake of all who have gone before, thank you for your service and happy Easter.


NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: The first time we've heard officially from the vice president, Mike Pence, after arriving there in South Korea. He just attended a sermon there with the troops who serve and now having a fellowship lunch with them, a dinner.

And North Korea, he said, our resolve has never been stronger and he continuously thanked the troops for their courage and their valor.

This, of course, an incredible time that the vice president lands just after North Korea tested another missile. For more about that and this trip, let's go to Ivan Watson now in the region -- Ivan.

IVAN WATSON, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, Natalie.

North Korean state media, so far, have not reported on Pyongyang's failed missile test early Sunday. South Korea says the rocket was launched from the North Korean port of Sinpo on the east coast.

The U.S. military says it blew up immediately. So there wasn't much time to gather data. This latest provocation came just hours before U.S. vice president Mike Pence arrived in Seoul for the first leg trip to Asia and Australia.

Now Alexandra Field is in Seoul and CNN's Will Ripley is reporting from Pyongyang at this time.

I'm going to go to Alex Field first.

You are at the headquarters of the U.S. military, which has nearly 30,000 troops deployed in South Korea. Of course, this is a personal visit. It is important for his family, basically, for the vice president, Pence, because, of course, his father is a veteran of the Korean War, in which more than 33,000 U.S. soldiers died on those battlefields there.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. This is such an important moment, this trip, not just for these two countries, for this alliance, for the servicemen and women who are a part of this alliance. But also you could hear it from Vice President Mike Pence, as he spoke

a few minutes ago to those service members. They are celebrating, having an Easter dinner together.

He talked about how just personal this trip is for him. You heard him get I think almost a little bit emotional as he talked to them about the commitment that those who fought made and the path that they paved for freedom here in South Korea.

He reflected on his father's service. His father was a veteran, received a Bronze Star. But he also talked about the fact that his father would say that the ones who are the real heroes were the ones who did not come home. Of course that's something that Vice President Mike Pence, would clearly be thinking about when he touched down here in South Korea.

The first order of business on the agenda was a trip to the national cemetery here to pay respects, then he came here to join the troops. And he was very clear in delivering the message you heard just moments ago about the support that is coming from Washington, the support coming from the president, the importance of the work that the U.S. and the South Korean forces continue to do here together.

And you also heard Vice President Mike Pence, saying that this morning's provocation from North Korea, the failed missile attempt, is a reminder of what the troops here face here everyday in their effort to defend and protect South Korea and to ensure security here on the peninsula and for the region, as well as beyond that -- Ivan.

WATSON: All right.

And I'm going to turn now to Will Ripley in Pyongyang.

The fact that Vice President Pence talked about the Korean War, that brings an important kind of open sore to the front and that is the fact that there still is not an official state of peace between North Korea --


WATSON: -- and the U.S. in the more than 60 years since that deadly war was waged on the Korean Peninsula.

Doesn't that get to the crux of the current tensions?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. Technically, the two sides are still at war. They signed an armistice agreement but never a peace treaty. And it was interesting to listen to the Vice President of the United States talk about the history of the Korean War because that war and what occurred still dominates much of the discourse here in North Korea as well.

Of course this country has built entire museums with their version of the Korean War, which is dramatically different from the version accepted by most outside historians, historians outside North Korea. North Korea tells its citizens that the United States was the

aggressor. I have been to museums where they present documents and photos that claim to prove their side, that in fact the United States, not North Korea, started the war, and that it was the North Korean veterans who valiantly defended this country from the "imperialist," as they call it, United States.

So the sentiment, the emotional sentiment that the vice president shared is also expressed very routinely by veterans of the Korean War here in North Korea and by the leaders of this country, who praise the veterans for their service in what they consider fighting off the American attack.

It goes to show that history plays such a key role in certainly the North and South Korean dynamic and really the dynamics of this entire region. Everything from World War II and the Japanese occupation of the Korean Peninsula prior to World War II, long disputes between various countries, between China and Japan, Japan and Korea and, of course, now the United States involved in the region.

It all plays into the events we see unfolding this morning at the crack of dawn when North Korea conducted another yet albeit unsuccessful missile test.

WATSON: Will, I'll never forget the scene of dozens of North Korean veterans in the summer of 2013, waiting for hours in the baking heat in Pyongyang, for a one of those military exercises, those parade and the strength that those old men and women had, sitting there in those difficult conditions.

All right. Fascinating with Will Ripley in Pyongyang and Alexandra Field on the other side of the demilitarized zone, we're going to take a break now. But stay with CNN for more news.





GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Just moments ago, the Vice President of the United States, Mike Pence, spoke with Korean military personnel and U.S. military personnel in Seoul, South Korea. For more reaction on the raised tensions in the Korean Peninsula and what it means for the United States, let's bring in Leslie Vinjamuri, she is a senior lecturer in international relations at SOAS University in London.

Thank you so much for being with us, Leslie. So we know, first of all, the official statement from the United States, it has been sparse, it has been very short. Only a statement coming from the Defense Secretary, James Mattis.

But given that the statement has been so short, what do you take from it? LESLIE VINJAMURI, SOAS UNIVERSITY: Well, remember, this was a failed missile test. It took place while Vice President Pence was on his way to the region. So there's been a real focus on the administration's likely response to North Korea.

Of course the real concern is that North Korea will develop the ability to launch a missile that could reach the continental United States within the next three years, if not sooner.

Now there's been an aircraft carrier sent to the region which is clearly intended to deter, as well as monitor and perhaps pave the prospect for a response if there were a missile that was launch headed toward South Korea or Japan or the United States.

But I think the response right now is muted. There will be discussions going on. The options, as all experts on North Korea always like to say, are all universally bad.

But I suspect that the immediate response to this particular failed missile launch strike is likely to be relatively low-key. The broader strategy is one of pressure on North Korea.

But I think one of the real concerns here right now is that, if you look at America's broader, diplomatic strategy in the region, we do not have, the United States does not have ambassadors in place in South Korea, does not have an ambassador in place in Japan or in China and does not have an assistant secretary of state for East Asian affairs appointed in the State Department.

So it is absolutely crucial really that the current administration put these people in place so that the diplomacy in the region can take place on a daily basis. That will be absolutely crucial.

Of course, working through China to get some leverage over North Korea, economically, will be absolutely essential. Remember the 85 percent of North Korea's trade takes place with China. So China becomes an absolutely essential partner in this.

HOWELL: And as we mentioned earlier, we are just starting to hear comments, given the failed missile launch that has happened. We heard the vice president there in Seoul, reassuring soldiers there.

And I do want to read the statement coming from the Defense Secretary. Let me read it to you in full. And again, it's short.

But it says, "The president and his military team are aware of North Korea's most recent unsuccessful missile launch. The president has no further comment."

Here's a question that I have, again, a very short response coming from the United States. You point out that the infrastructure for diplomacy is lacking several key figures in that region.

Is there still a chance, though?

How important is diplomacy at this point? And how important would China be in that equation?

VINJAMURI: I think that the diplomacy that is essential for the U.S. is working with its allies in the region, working with the Japanese and South Korea on a daily basis, to be aware of what developments are taking place and working very closely with China.

The meeting between President Xi and President Trump appears to have gone well. There's some sense among experts that China might be willing to put more economic pressure on North Korea.

But having those diplomats in the region -- you know, it takes a long time for Vice President Pence to fly to the region. He's going on many important visits over the course of the next several days.

But that daily diplomacy with regional partners is absolutely essential and critical. Trump has been, lately, showing his willingness --


VINJAMURI: -- to use hard power. But of course hard power needs to be reinforced on a daily basis through diplomacy and other mechanisms. So it's absolutely essential that those people are in place sooner rather than later.

HOWELL: Leslie Vinjamuri, thank you so much for your insight. We'll stay in touch with you.

Still ahead here, it is one of the holiest days on the Christian calendar. A live report from the pope's Easter Sunday mass -- still ahead.




ALLEN: Live video here from Vatican City. St. Peter's Square is packed. The pope is moving through the crowd, sending his well wishes. He has completed his mass there in front of them. Now we await his message to the world.

Of course, this is Easter Sunday, the day many Christians around the world celebrate Jesus' rising from the dead.

HOWELL: The pope celebrated the Easter vigil mass Saturday night; he urged Catholics to feel the pain of the poor and of immigrants.

ALLEN: For more, let's go to Delia Gallagher, she is our Vatican correspondent. She joins us now live from Rome.

Hello, Delia, happy Easter to you.



GALLAGHER: As you said, Natalie, the pope has just wrapped up his mass, he's going around the square to say hello to some of the 50,000 people, according to the Vatican, who are with him this morning for Easter mass.

As you can imagine, security is tight. The roads around the Vatican have all been closed to traffic. There are several checkpoints for the tourists to get through, including metal detectors, in order to get into the square as well as an increased police presence between Vatican and Italian police forces.

What the pope will be doing now, Natalie and George, is going up to the main balcony in front of St. Peter's to give this message to the world, called the Urbi et Orbi, to the city and to the world, in Latin.

And it's really his chance to focus on some of the areas around the world, which he wants to call attention to, something that he's been doing throughout this Holy Week, given the many situations, what he says is a piecemeal third world war happening.

So he will be making those remarks in just a few minutes as soon as he reaches the balcony. We should also mention that today is the birthday of the pope emeritus, Pope Benedict XVI. He is 90 years old today. He was not at the mass. But Pope Francis visited him in his house behind St. Peter's to wish him well last week -- George, Natalie.

HOWELL: Thank you so much, Delia.

ALLEN: Thank you. We will wait to hear what his message is to the world. Thanks.

Thank you for watching this hour of CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Natalie Allen.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell here in Atlanta.

WATSON: And I'm Ivan Watson in Hong Kong.

For viewers in the U.S., "NEW DAY" is next.

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