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US VP Pence Visits Korean DMZ; Turkish President Erdogan Claims Victory In Constitutional Referendum; Aggravated Murder Warrant For Facebook Suspect; Former Mexican Governor Arrested In Guatemala. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired April 17, 2017 - 02:00   ET


GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: The vice president of the United States Mike Pence in South Korea, reassuring allies, while visiting the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea. A live report ahead.

ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: In Turkey, President Erdogan is granted sweeping new powers after voters say yes in a constitutional referendum.

HOWELL: And the hunt is on for this man. Across several states in the US, police say that he murdered a man and then posted the video on Facebook.

CHURCH: Hello and welcome to our viewers here in the United States and, of course, all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell from CNN world headquarters in Atlanta. NEWSROOM starts right now.

CHURCH: A top official just got a rare look inside North Korea. US Vice President Mike Pence traveled from South Korea to the demilitarized zone.

HOWELL: He stood just about 200 feet, some 60 meters, from the border, all the while, as you see here, under the gaze of North Korean troops. At one point, they even appeared to take a picture of him.

Here's what the vice president had to say about the DMZ and US ties to Seoul and Pyongyang's nuclear program. Listen.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I'm here to express the resolve of the people of the United States and the president of the United States to achieve that objective through peaceful means, through negotiations, but all options are on the table as we continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of South Korea for the denuclearization of this peninsula and for the long-term prosperity and freedom of the people of South Korea.


HOWELL: Keep in mind, Pence's South Korean visit follows a failed launch of a North Korean missile. Our Paula Hancocks is following this story live this hour in Seoul, South Korea.

Paula, good to have you with us. Keep in mind, we are expecting to hear from the Vice President Mike Pence alongside the acting president of South Korea Hwang Kyo-ahn shortly. You see this video here where our camera is trained for those two leaders to speak any moment now. We continue to monitor.

But, Paula, the optics here, the vice president at the DMZ, what does that mean to this region?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN KOREA CORRESPONDENT: Well, George, just one update, we're being told by the acting president's office that that joint statement is going to be delayed by about 30 minutes. So, we'll bring that to you when we can.

But the fact that the US vice president is going to what he called the frontier of freedom, the historic frontier of freedom shows that the US is taking this North Korea situation very seriously. The vice president is coming to South Korea. He is going to the border between the two Koreas.

Remember that they're still technically at war as there was never a peace treaty signed after the Korean War, just an armistice. And he's also - as you can see in that footage being seen by North Korean soldiers, it is a message to the North Koreans. Those photos they're taking will, obviously, go back to leadership.

And it's a very visible message to show North Korea the United States is, as Vice President Pence said, standing shoulder to shoulder with South Korea.

Now, from Mr. Pence's point of view, it's also a more personal journey for him. His father actually fought in the Korean War and he did tweet not so long ago and it he said, meaningful visit to DMZ where 64 years ago my dad earned the Bronze Star in the Korean War. His medal stays close in my West Wing office.

So, not just a message to the North Koreans, but certainly for Mr. Pence himself it is an emotional and personal visit for him to see where his father had fought.

HOWELL: So, the vice president there, obviously, the optics focused on what's happening now, reassuring allies, but also alluding to the past, even talking at some point about the history of the Korean War.

The question that I have at this point, though, Paula, is there still concern that North Korea could do something regarding its nuclear program?

HANCOCKS: Certainly, there is always that concern. The fact that we're talking about heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula doesn't change anything for North Korea. Kim Jong-un, the leader, has been as clear as he possibly can be saying, I'm going to continue my nuclear testing, I will continue my missile testing. He said at the beginning of this year in his New Year's address, I'm close to test launching an ICBM, an intercontinental ballistic missile, that could potentially hit mainland United States.

The leader couldn't be any clearer about what he intends to do. It's, of course, all about the timing. We understand from those who watch the satellite imagery of Punggye-ri where these nuclear tests have taken place underground in the past, they are ready. They're primed and ready to go. All that they are lacking is the green light from the leader.

[02:05:16] And South Korean officials as well, since last September, when nuclear test number five happened, very quickly after that, they said, number six will be coming soon. They have no doubt at all that the next nuclear test was going to happen.

And I think that's the sense of people here in South Korea that nothing much has changed, North Korea will continue to do its testing until something changed, whether negotiations, but, of course, it's interesting that now people are more openly talking about the potential preemptive strike on North Korea that most people assume will never happen.

But the fact that it's being openly talked about, which in the past it wasn't so much.

HOWELL: A lot happening on the Korean Peninsula. Paula Hancocks following it all live in Seoul. Thank you for the reporting. We'll stay in touch.

CHURCH: Japan's prime minister has reacted following the latest North Korean provocation. Here is what Shinzo Abe said earlier about Sunday's failed North Korean missile launch.


SHINZO ABE, PRIME MINISTER OF JAPAN (via translator): The Trump administration has been clear. They won't be taking the strategic patience and all options are on the table in order to tackle the problem, which is something our country approves.

We are consistently thinking and preparing for situations where Japanese residents in the Korean Peninsula will need to be protected or evacuated. We will also be able to evacuate Japanese residents due to the 2015 Japanese military legislation as we strengthen our ability to protect overseas Japanese.


CHURCH: Well, the US national security advisor is also speaking out about North Korea. Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster was in Afghanistan Sunday. He told "ABC", the problem with Pyongyang is coming to a head.


H.R. MCMASTER, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: And I think it's really the consensus with the president, our key allies in the region, Japan and South Korea in particular, but also the Chinese leadership that this problem is coming to a head. And so, it's time for us to undertake all actions we can, short of a military option, to try to resolve this peacefully.


CHURCH: Well, for more on North Korea, we're joined now from Romania by Daniel Pinkston. He is an international relations professor at Troy University. Thank you so much for talking with us.

So, as we've seen here, Vice President Mike Pence has gone to the demilitarized zone and he's talked in these harsh terms. He's saying that all options are still on the table. How is that likely to be received and interpreted by Pyongyang?

DANIEL PINKSTON, LECTURER IN INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, TROY UNIVERSITY: Well, I think the vice president has delivered the appropriate message of the resolve of the United States, the Republic of Korea and the allied nations.

Force has been on the table for 60 years. It was on the table in June 1950 when the Korean War started. And it's certainly been on the table since November 1954 when the mutual defense treaty between the US and the Republic of Korea came into force.

So, mentioning that slogan or short-term message raises the question under what conditions and how and when force would be used. The US has a defense treaty commitment and we also have a commitment to fulfill the Korean armistice, the ceasefire between the military combatants in the war.

CHURCH: Now, the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, is known to be very unpredictable, but it has to be said that the US President Donald Trump is also unpredictable. So, how dangerous is this brinkmanship that we're all witnessing across the globe? How bad could this get, do you think?

PINKSTON: Well, there is certainly a possibly of miscalculation. I would argue that the North Korean regime is (INAUDIBLE) they have a very strong will to survive and they do not want to commit suicide. They are aware of the balance of forces that are against them. So, that's the good news. I believe they can be deterred and we have to have the correct posture.

Vice President Pence's message today was appropriate to signal to resolve. I think this represents what I'm calling the complexity simplicity paradox. We heard President Trump say that after speaking to President Xi Jingping he realized that this problem on the Korean Peninsula is very complex and I think every actor in the region is restrained and constrained from acting unilaterally.

So, that's the simplicity of it. I don't think we have any real viable options except deterrence and containment, which has been the policy over the past decades.

CHURCH: Right. When we look at the optics of this trip by the Vice President Mike Pence there at the demilitarized zone, he wasn't initially scheduled to go outside, was he? But once he did - and he was photographed by some of the North Korean soldiers there. Once he did that and stared right into North Korea, how would that message be received, do you think?

[02:10:14] PINKSTON: Well, I'm not familiar with the Vice President's itinerary, but certainly that's not news. Senior level officials have gone up to the joint security area on the DMZ before to view the area and demonstrate and signal US resolve.

So, I think it's the same signal that we've seen and heard before. I don't think it's new. I think the North Koreans need to be aware of the resolve of the Republic of Korea and the US in case of any military actions by North Korea.

CHURCH: Daniel Pinkston, thank you so much for talking with us. We appreciate it.

PINKSTON: My pleasure.

HOWELL: Turning now to our other top story. Turkey's president is promising a new era, declaring victory in Sunday's historic referendum. The opposition, though, disputes the ballot count. They claim possible voter fraud.

CNN's Ian Lee has this report.


IAN LEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Mark this the day that Turkey changed forever. Thousands celebrate a new constitution. Preliminary results give this man, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, more power.

RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, PRESIDENT OF TURKEY (via translator): Regardless of what people voted for, I would like to thank every single member of our nation who attended the ballot box to indicate their choice. Turkey, in respect of supporting its democracy and respecting people's choices, Turkey will be able to overcome all sorts of difficulties, crises and issues.

LEE: A no-vote would have rebuked the strong man who has led the country for over a decade. And that's why millions of Turks, young and old, descended on the ballots to cast their vote in this narrow referendum.

This father of three voted yes, telling me, it's better for my country, the economy, my children's future, that President Erdogan has more power.

Maliha (ph) agrees saying, of course, she voted yes. We've benefited greatly by President Erdogan's leadership. If I said no, the bad times would return.

But with celebration comes sorrow. The no campaign said they faced intimidation and threats of violence. Independent election monitors say state media and pro-government outlets slanted coverage in favor of yes and that's what had no voters despairing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Actually I'm sad. I cried all night. It's really sad that we have to do this whole thing even. I mean, in 15 years we saw that, you know, the radical Islam has come to power and we ended up with dictatorship.

LEE: This father had voted for his daughter's future also, telling me, "It's courageous to talk about this, democracy is important. Multi-party systems, separation of powers, checks and balances, it's valuable. That's why I voted no."

Security concerns also dominated the lead-up to this referendum. A threat of a terror attack loomed large.

Security has been tight at polling stations like this one here in Istanbul. Hundreds of thousands of members of the security forces have been deployed across the country to secure the referendum.

Polls closed without a major incident. But with such a narrow victory, no perceived mandate, and the president previously calling no-voters traitors who side with supporters of terror.

The question now, can Recep Tayyip Erdogan heal the wounds of this deeply divisive and polarizing referendum?


HOWELL: And CNN's Ian Lee is live this hour in Istanbul, Turkey, following the story for us. Ian, it's good to have you. So, Mr. Erdogan wanted victory at a larger margin, but nonetheless this is victory. Does the opposition have any recourse, given the final vote here?

LEE: That's right, George. Let's look at the map for a second of where Turks voted and how they voted. And you can see in Anatolia, in the inner parts of that region, you can see that there was strong support for the president, for the yes vote.

But when you move to the coastal areas and the big cities, it was a no vote that led predominantly in this referendum, a real disparity between the large cities and the rural areas.

As far as for the opposition going forward with the no vote, they have 10 days to file their claims and there are - the CHP, the main opposition party, is calling for a recount of 37 percent of the votes. And they're outraged that the Supreme Electoral Board announced just before polls closed yesterday that the ballots didn't have to have a stamp on them, an official stamp that validated them.

They said if these ballots that don't have an official stamp can be proven to come from within the polling station that they're still validated. So, there was a real change there at the final minutes and the opposition parties are furious.

[02:15:14] HOWELL: Ian, let's go back to that map if we could. I'll ask our director if we can take a look at it because I want to talk about the perspective in the country southeast. What does this mean for Kurds, many of the people there, as you see in the southeast, who to voted no?

LEE: Well, the Kurds, as we've seen, have been - at least, the Kurdish militants, the PKK, have been battling the government. The Kurds complain of being marginalized and being discriminated against, being targeted, saying that they aren't treated as equal citizens to Turks. And so, that has been a problem for many years now, but really flaring up recently.

And so when you do look at this electoral map, it really is that core base of supporters that President Erdogan and his AK party has relied on for over the past 10 years, coming through and pulling out that win by the slimmest of margins, although that is being contested also.

HOWELL: Ian, one other question here. So, when it came to the yes campaign, the billboards, the posters, they seem to be everywhere. But when it came to the no campaign, I read in one article that there were cases where maybe officers would take propaganda down for the no campaign.

But, just generally, was it harder for no to get the same exposure as yes?

LEE: Absolutely. I spoke with election monitors and they say that's the one thing in the lead up to this referendum that they noticed. They say they look for whether a referendum is free and fair and they said, going into it at least, that it looked like it was going to be free, but not so much as fair.

And that's because, if you look at state media, if you look at pro- government media which is far more than the other types of media, that the yes campaign just had overwhelming coverage against the no vote.

And then, if you look around Istanbul, the yes campaign had huge billboards, huge signs all over the city. And the no campaign not so much. They also complained that the government funds were going toward supporting the yes campaign too. A lot of the people in the no camp said they really didn't have a chance because of that support and of the privilege the yes campaign had.

HOWELL: It is 09:17 in the morning in Istanbul, Turkey. Ian Lee following the story for us live. Ian, thank you for the reports.

Still ahead here on CNN NEWSROOM, police in the United States are widening their search for this man, accused of randomly killing someone and then posting the video to Facebook.

CHURCH: New details on where they think he may have gone, that's still to come. Do stay with us here on CNN NEWSROOM.



[02:21:51] CHURCH: Police in Cleveland, Ohio believe the man responsible for a deadly shooting posted on Facebook may have left the state.

HOWELL: Police have issued an aggravated murder warrant for this man, Steve Stephens. And they're asking people now in several states, in Pennsylvania, New York, Indiana and Michigan to be on alert.

CNN national correspondent Polo Sandoval has this report for us.


POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The city of Cleveland and also much of the US is still in shock and in disbelief after the senseless crime was captured on camera and then eventually uploaded on to Facebook.

Authorities say that Steve Stephens is the man who appears to go on this rant in his car and then sets his sights on an innocent man. Authorities with the latest information on this case.

CALVIN WILLIAMS, CLEVELAND POLICE CHIEF: We want him to turn himself in. If that doesn't happen, then again we have all of our partners in on this and we'll look until we find him.

Currently, division of police is, of course, the lead on this. But, of course, our partners from the FBI, our state and county partners are also working with us diligently to make sure that we get this person off the streets.

SANDOVAL: And we are now learning more about the victim in this case. A 74-year-old man who was simply walking on the side of the road. And by all accounts randomly targeted by Stephens. According to authorities, his family now reacting to their loss.

ROBERT GODWIN JR, SON OF SHOOTING VICTIM: He's a good guy. I mean, he'd give you the shirt off his back. And I'm not just saying that for these cameras, like people do knowing that their people really ain't right. But I'm telling the truth. This man right here was a good man.

SANDOVAL: Well, CNN spoke to Stephens' mom, a woman by the name of Maggie Green, who tells CNN that the last time she saw her son was on Saturday. Then he told her it would be the last time that she would see him.

Polo Sandoval, CNN, Atlanta.


HOWELL: Polo, thank you for the reporting.

Now to Guatemala. Police there ended a six-month search on Saturday, arresting a former Mexican governor. Javier Duarte was once held up as an example with a spotless record.

CHURCH: It turns out he actually stole hundreds of millions of dollars. Rafael Romo has more on the capture and what it means to Mexico's governor.


RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Javier Duarte had been missing for more than six months. Last October, Mexican authorities issued an arrest warrant against him on charges of money laundering and racketeering.

The 43-year-old was finally located Saturday night at a resort in a Guatemalan tourist town where he was arrested by police. Duarte is accused of mishandling millions of dollars from programs for the poor.

This case is an embarrassment to Mexican president, Enrique Pena Nieto. Both politics belong to the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI by its Spanish acronym, which governed Mexico for most of the 20th century. Pena Nieto once mentioned Duarte as an example of the new, younger, less corrupt PRIs.

In November, Mexican officials froze 112 bank accounts belonging to Duarte. They also seized five businesses and four residences owned by the former governor. The Mexican government was offering about $810,000 for information leading to his capture and arrest. Mexican officials announced Sunday they now have 60 days to request and carry out Duarte's extradition back to Mexico.

[02:25:19] Duarte is just one of several former Mexican governors in trouble with the law. Last week, Tomas Yarrington, former governor of the violence-ridden state of Tamaulipas who had been on the run since 2012, was captured in Florence, Italy. An arrest warrant has been issued against former Chihuahua governor, Cesar Duarte, no relation, who remains at large.

Rafael Romo, CNN.


CHURCH: On the campaign trail, Donald Trump had harsh words for China. Coming up, why there's been such a dramatic reversal. We're back in a moment.


CHURCH: And a very warm welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and, of course, all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell. This is CNN Newsroom with the headlines we're following for you this hour.

CHURCH: Rescue teams are trying to save hundreds of migrants trapped off the Libyan coast. The Italian coast guard and a relief agency say at least seven people were found dead Sunday, including an eight-year- old boy. Poor weather conditions have impeded the operation.

HOWELL: In Northern Iraq, Christians celebrated Easter mass for the first time since 2014. Iraqi forces pushed ISIS militants out of in October. Many of Iraq's Christians had escaped to the autonomous Kurdish region when ISIS took power. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is ordering the military to patrol city streets in the wake of protests that left five people dead. Violent demonstrations erupted when his government tried to dissolve parliament and banned a popular opposition leader from politics earlier this month. More protests are planned for Wednesday.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: Recapping our top story this day, following news in the Korean Peninsula. The Vice President of the United States Mike Pence has visited the demilitarized zone. This, after he arrived in South Korea Sunday to begin his Asia-Pacific trip.

CHURCH: His visit comes just after a failed North Korean missile launch. At the DMZ, Pence said all options are on the table to rid the Peninsula of nuclear weapons. And we are waiting a joint statement from the US Vice President Mike Pence and the acting South Korean president. We will, of course, bring you that as soon as it happens. As you can see, we are watching this closely.

Well, the administration's preferred option is a diplomatic resolution. For that, the White House is looking to Beijing to play a prominent role.

Elise Labott has the details.


ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: President Trump clearly sees China as a linchpin in the US strategy to pressure North Korea to curb its nuclear and missile program.

Now, during a recent review of North Korea policy, officials say it became evident that China has never really exerted maximum pressure on North Korea. And in Kabul, Sunday, National Security Advisor General H.R. McMaster made clear China now has to step up.

H.R. MCMASTER, US NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: And so, we're going to rely on our allies like we always do, but we're also going to have to rely on Chinese leadership. North Korea is very vulnerable to pressure from the Chinese. 80 percent of North Korea's trade comes from China. All of their energy requirements are fulfilled by China.

LABOTT: Now, along with those carrots, there is a stick. When he visited Beijing recently, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned that the US could sanction Chinese banks and companies that do business with North Korea if Beijing does not start cooperating. And those threats will continue to grow louder.

Elise Labott, CNN, Washington.


HOWELL: Elise Labott, thank you for the reporting.

Now, to Turkey where President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has claimed a narrow victory in Sunday's bitterly fought referendum. It will give the president sweeping powers and opponents are already upset about the results.

Mr. Erdogan is promising a new era. Let's listen.


RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, PRESIDENT OF TURKEY (via translator): From tomorrow onwards, instead of losing time with unnecessary disputes and discussions, it will be beneficial to focus on the new era and changes and I invite everyone to respect our nation's decisions. The other countries, especially those we consider as our allies, should respect our sensitivities, especially in respect of our approach against fighting the terror.


HOWELL: Now, the opposition party, CHP, it says that it will contest at least a third of the ballots because of suspected voter tampering.

Jared Malsin is the Middle East bureau chief for TIME Magazine and joins us now from Istanbul. It's good to have you with us this hour, sir.

This vote, obviously, means more power for President Erdogan in the coming years. He says that that will bring about more stability. But put into context for us. Because just over a year ago, there was the failed coup attempt. Then following that, the claims that the president jailed many of his opponents followed what happened.

Did this help to pave the way to where we are today?

JARED MALSIN, TIME MAGAZINE MIDDLE EAST BUREAU CHIEF: That's right. This referendum came at the tail-end of more than a year of political turmoil, political violence in the form of terrorism and attacks throughout the country, and I don't think this vote is going to do much to resolve those tensions. It's a narrow victory and it's also a potentially divisive one, as you said, with opposition parties challenging the outcome of the vote.

This vote does hand Erdogan more power, massively expanding the power of his office, but it does so in a way that is the most divisive outcome possible, which is a narrow victory that is disputed by at least half the country, and that's going to, I think, erode the trust of ordinary people on institutions. And in some ways, this is the worst case scenario.

HOWELL: Does the opposition, sir, have any recourse as they're claiming tampering?

MALSIN: Well, that remains to be seen. Both of the main opposition parties are saying they're going to change this, presumably through legal means, but ultimate say over these matters lies with the high election council.

[02:35:04] And so, I think at this point, Erdogan's victory is a political reality. He and his deputies seem determined to move forward with the transition and I think seize the initiative before any real opposition can be mounted.

And also, there was some ambiguity coming from the opposite side. You had the leader of the CHP, Kilicdaroglu, last night saying both - claiming both that - it's possible that the no campaign had won more than half the votes, but also saying we respect the will of the people. So, there is a little bit of confusion coming from him. And I think the sort of wiggle room in his messaging is going to create some ambiguity there.

HOWELL: So, help our viewers around the world understand the motivation of people who voted yes for this referendum to give the president more powers.

We're going to pause for a moment, sir. I want to go to a live event that's happening right now. We have the Vice President of the United States Mike Pence alongside the acting president of South Korea, giving statements.

Let's listen.

HWANG KYO-AHN, ACTING PRESIDENT OF SOUTH KOREA (via translator): Good afternoon. First of all, I would like to wholeheartedly welcome Vice President Pence on his first visit to Korea. And I'd also like to extend my warmest welcome to his family and delegation.

Vice President Pence's late father was a Korean War veteran who had devoted himself to the defense of our freedom and democracy during the Korean War. And this morning Vice President Pence visited the demilitarized zone to inspect our stalwarts combine the best posture and reconfirm our strong will to deter North Korea. This symbolizes not only a special personal tie, but also the depth and sturdiness of our alliance that has lasted over 60 years.

In particular, at this time when the security situation on the Korean Peninsula is dire due to North Korea's nuclear and missile provocations, Vice President Pence's visit to Korea as his first destination in Asia since taking office shows the firm stance of the new US administration on developing our alliance and responding to North Korea's nuclear and missile threats. As such, I believe Vice President Pence's visit is timely and meaningful.

Today, the vice president and I shared the view that on the basis of close cooperation and collaboration, the ROK-US alliance has grown into an indispensable linchpin for peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia, as well as the successful strategic alliance that works together to resolve global challenges.

We have also reconfirmed our unwavering will to continue to make our alliance even stronger through further cooperation in the areas of security, economy and trade and global issues.

[02:40:41] Ten days ago, on April 10, I spoke with President Trump on the results of the US-China summit and ways to work together going forward. Today, with Vice President Pence, we shared the understanding on the gravity and urgency of North Korea's nuclear and missile threat and agreed to double our efforts to change North Korea's strategic calculations by further tightening the global network of pressure on North Korea and thoroughly implementing sanctions under the unwavering principle of denying North Korea nuclear weapons.

Furthermore, under the shared view that China's constructive efforts and role are critical, we applaud the results of the recent US-China summit and we will closely strengthen our cooperation with China. If North Korea commits another provocation, we will strictly implement intensive punitive measures based on our cooperation with China.

At the same time, in response to North Korea's continuously advancing nuclear and missile threat, we have agreed to continue to pursue various measures to strengthen our deterrence capabilities and combine the best posture to include extended deterrence.

We have also agreed to further strengthen the readiness posture of the ROK-US alliance in response to North Korea's growing threat by ensuring the early deployment and operation of the USFK's THAAD system.

In this respect, I appreciate the United States taking a clear position on various occasions, including at the US-China summit, with regard to China's under-actions in connection with USFK's deployment of THAAD. We have agreed to continue to work together, so that tougher actions may come to an end at an early date.

Furthermore, we fully shared the view that in responding to and resolving such critical issues, the watertight collaboration between our two countries is of the utmost importance and that all future policies and measures will be made under totally seamless cooperation and coordination.

Furthermore, as global partners, we have also agreed to work together to resolve global issues.

[02:45:20] It is really meaningful that close cooperation and collaboration has continued to develop since the launch of the new US administration. And I'm confident that today's meeting with Vice President Pence will serve as yet another meaningful occasion for the further development of the ROK-US alliance. Thank you.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Good afternoon. Annyeong hashimnikka to Acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn. Thank you for your kind words and the hospitality you've shown me and my family in welcoming us to the Republic of Korea, my very first stop in the Asian Pacific as vice president of the United States.

It's a great honor for me to be in South Korea today and I bring greetings from the president of the United States, President Donald Trump. And on his behalf, I'm here to express the unwavering support of the United States for our long-standing alliance with South Korea.

President Trump and I are grateful for your strong partnership with the United States. We commend you personally for your steady hand in this time of transition in South Korea. The president and our entire administration admire the South Korean people's commitment to the rule of law and the democratic process and we look forward to the upcoming election with great anticipation.

While change is coming on May 9, the people of South Korea may be assured, whatever change happens in your elections, the commitment of the United States to South Korea's safety and security will remain unchanged.

On behalf of the president of the United States, my message to the people of South Korea is this, we are with you 100 percent. Even in these troubled times, we stand with you for a free and secure future.

The United States of America stands shoulder to shoulder with the Republic of Korea and the service and vigilance of some 37,500 US soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines on this frontier of freedom stands as a testament to the enduring partnership between our people.

The alliance between South Korea and the United States is the linchpin of peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and indeed throughout the Asian Pacific. The United States' commitment to South Korea is ironclad and immutable. And under President Trump's leadership, I know our alliance will even be stronger. Our nations will be safer and the Asia-Pacific will be more secure.

[02:50:09] Nowhere is that more evident than with our commitment to confront the region's most dangerous and urgent threat to peace and security, the regime in North Korea. Since 1992, the United States and our allies have stood together for a denuclearized Korean Peninsula.

We hope to achieve this objective through peaceful means, but all options are on the table. Just in the past two weeks, the world witnessed the strength and resolve of our new president in actions taken in Syria and Afghanistan.

North Korea would do well not to test his resolve or the strength of the armed forces of the United States in this region. We will continue to deploy the THAAD missile defense system as a defensive measure, called for by the alliance and for the alliance.

We continue to evolve a comprehensive set of capabilities to ensure the security of South Korea. And as our secretary of defense made clear here in South Korea not long ago, we will defeat any attack and we will meet any use of conventional or nuclear weapons with an overwhelming and effective response.

Strategic patience has been the approach of the last American administration and beyond. For more than two decades, the United States and our allies have worked to peacefully dismantle North Korea's nuclear program and alleviate the suffering of their people.

But at every step of the way, North Korea answered our overtures with willful deception, broken promises and nuclear and missile tests. Over the past 18 months, North Korea has conducted two unlawful nuclear tests and an unprecedented number of ballistic missile tests, even conducting a failed missile launch as I traveled here for this visit.

The era of strategic patience is over.

Earlier this month, President Trump spoke with you, Acting President Hwang, to reaffirm the strength of our alliance. As I reassured you today, we will continue to closely consult with South Korea and your leadership as we make decisions moving forward.

We also call on other regional powers and the entire international community to join us to confront North Korea and demand that it abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, to turn away from its renewed hostility toward its neighbor and to end the repression of its own people.

[02:55:31] Earlier this month, President Trump met with Chinese President Xi at the Southern White House. The two leaders noted the urgency of the threat posed by North Korea's weapons programs and each of them reaffirmed their commitment to a denuclearized Korean Peninsula during that meeting on April 7. They also committed to fully implement UN Security Council resolutions and to increase cooperation to convince North Korea to abandon its illicit weapons program. It is heartening to see China commit to these actions.

But the United States is troubled by China's economic retaliation against South Korea for taking appropriate steps to defend itself. The better path would be for China to address the North Korean threat that is actually making such defensive measures necessary.

Now, while issues like that remains, the president and I have great confidence that China will properly deal with North Korea. But as President Trump made clear just a few short days ago, if China is unable to deal with North Korea, the United States and our allies will.

So, today it is my privilege on behalf of President Trump to reaffirm the United States' enduring commitment to the security and prosperity of South Korea and to ensure the people of South Korea of our unbreakable bond.

We're bound together by our shared values, but also by our shared sacrifice. A free and democratic South Korea was forged in the fires of sacrifice by soldiers from both our lands. And my father was one of them.

65 years ago, Second Lieutenant Edward J. Pence of the 45th Infantry Division in the United States Army fought alongside brave South Korean forces to win the freedom of this land. While he came home to raise a family, he had friends in uniform from America and Korea who went home to eternity.

So too, the friendship between our two free nations is eternal. We have bled together. We have prospered together. And on that foundation, the people of the United States of America and South Korea will face the future together with courage, determination and faith. We go together. (INAUDIBLE).

So, thank you, Mr. Acting President, for your hospitality. It is a great, great honor to be with you today.

CHURCH: All right. Facing the future together, we heard there from Mike Pence, the vice president of the US, delivering a very clear message to North Korea. It would do well not to test President Trump's resolve.

Also said, the US will defeat any attack from North Korea and gave his 100 percent support to South Korea. We also heart of lot of concern there about China, the critical role it should play. We will talk about that and also the early deployment of THAAD defense system.

Let's bring in Paula Hancocks now with more from Seoul. And, Paula, there are a lot of headlines coming out of that. But the big one, of course, is how much they're relying on China.