North Korea says Syria airstrikes prove its nukes justified

A US army soldier watches during the joint exercise operation in South Korea

US President Donald Trump's dramatic decision to order a missile strike on Syria was sparked by his eldest daughter, Ivanka, who was "heartbroken" over a suspected chemical attack in Syria, says a report.

The U.S. airstrikes this week were aimed at a Syrian air base, but nearly certainly got the attention of another adversary - North Korea.

A USA aircraft carrier-led strike group is headed towards the western Pacific Ocean near the Korean Peninsula, a United States defense official confirmed to CNN.

Heading into the first talks between President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, North Korea was the front-and-center security issue on the table.

"Presidents before and President Trump agreed this is unacceptable, that what must happen is the denuclearization of the peninsula", McMaster said. -South Korean joint military exercises.

North Korea has said the USA missile strikes on Syria were an "intolerable act of aggression" that "proves a million times over" that strengthening its nuclear programme was the right choice, state media reported Saturday.

It is not uncommon for aircraft carriers to operate in that area, and the US regularly deploys military assets, such as aircraft, to the region as a show of force.

The North has carried out five nuclear tests - two of them previous year - and expert satellite imagery analysis suggests it could well be preparing for a sixth.

Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met Monday in central Italy to discuss the Syrian conflict and the rising nuclear threat posed by North Korea.

The move of the USS Carl Vinson is in response to recent North Korean provocations, the official said.

"Third Fleet ships operate forward with a goal: to safeguard U.S. interests in the Western Pacific", Commander Dave Benham, Director of Media Operations for the U.S. Pacific Command Third Fleet, told VOA.

To rein in Pyongyang's nuclear and ballistic missiles programs, Japan and the United States agree that the role of China, the main economic and diplomatic benefactor of North Korea, is crucial. Pyongyang appeared to up the ante just before the meeting began by test-launching a ballistic missile.

On Sunday, a North Korean Foreign Ministry official was quoted on state-run media as vowing to step up the country's defenses to protect itself from airstrikes like the USA carried out against Syria last week.

The North called the airstrikes "absolutely unpardonable" and said they prove its nuclear weapons are justified to protect the country against Washington's "evermore reckless moves for a war".

While Trump has not set out a clear strategy for dealing with the isolated nation, he has criticized the administration of former President Barack Obama for its policy of "strategic patience", in the face of North Korea's ongoing efforts to develop long-range nuclear strike capability.

North Korea considers Syria an ally.

USA industry had hoped Trump would deliver a strong message to Xi behind closed doors to end what they see as discriminatory trade policies, but not do anything rash to spark a trade war.

"If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will", Trump told The Financial Times on April 2. "If they do, that will be very good for China, and if they don't, it won't be good for anyone".

Xi expressed "an appreciation" to Trump for informing him of the number of missiles that were launched and explaining the rationale behind the strike, said Tillerson.

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