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Mike Pence heading to South Korea amid North Korea tensions

CBS News logo CBS News 4/14/2017 Rebecca Shabad
Vice President Mike Pence makes introductory remarks prior to the arrival of US President Donald Trump at a reception for U.S. Senators and their spouses in the East Room of the White House on March 28, 2017 in Washington, D.C.: gettyimages-659528346.jpg © Getty gettyimages-659528346.jpg

Vice President Mike Pence will leave Washington on Saturday for an 11-day trip overseas with his first stop in South Korea as North Korea appears to prepare for another nuclear test. 

White House officials said Pence’s trip is intended to reinforce that the U.S. is fully committed to its security alliances, especially in the face of North Korea’s nuclear threat, to facilitate economic engagement and reinforce that it’s fully committed to partnerships with key countries.

His trip comes as new satellite images show that North Korea may be preparing to conduct its sixth nuclear test, reports CBS News’ Ben Tracy. The country is “primed and ready,” a U.S.-based watchdog group says, after it analyzed telltale signs of activity at the remote underground test site.

In an interview with Tracy, North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Han Song Ryol accused the Trump administration of wanting to “annihilate” his country and blamed the escalating tension on the Korean Peninsula squarely on the U.S. and South Korea.

Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, is calling on Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, to immediately call the House back into session so that Congress can debate the missile strikes the Trump administration launched against the Syrian regime last week and the “saber-rattling on North Korea.”

She said they both demand serious and immediate Congressional scrutiny.

“Speaker Ryan must call Congress back into session for classified briefings and debate.  Congress must do its duty and honor our responsibility to the Constitution,” she said in a statement.

Congress is currently on its first week of its two-week recess.

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