April 15 (UPI) -- Vice President Mike Pence embarked Saturday on a 10-day trip to Asia where his first stop will be South Korea, a nation on edge over recent saber-rattling from the North.
From there, Pence will visit Japan, Indonesia and Australia.
A spokesman said Pence's main mission on the Korean peninsula will be to reassure South Korea of the "ironclad" commitment by the United States to defend its ally should the North continue its string of military provocations including a recent missile launch off its eastern coast.
President Donald Trump this week said the United States would consider unilateral action against North Korea if the tests continue. The Pentagon said it is preparing contingency plans for the possibility North Korea will hold a nuclear test or launch another test missile while Pence is in Seoul.
On Saturday, the military showed off new, more advanced missiles in a military parade to commemorate the 105th birthday of the Kim regime's founder, Kim Il Sung, grandfather of the current dictator Kim Jong Un.
Pence will spend a portion of his arrival day Sunday celebrating the Easter holiday with U.S. and South Korean troops in the country and meet with acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn.
In Indonesia, Pence will likely face pushback from the administration's ban on travel from some Muslim countries. Indonesia is the world's largest majority-Muslim nation and while it is not included in Trump's travel ban, leaders there have expressed their displeasure with the order, the implementation of which remains on hold by court order.
In Australia, Pence's visit will represent the first high-level in-person meeting between a member of the Trump administration and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, leader of one of the closest U.S. allies in the world.
A phone call between Trump and Turnbull included a pointed disagreement about a refugee deal struck between the Australians and former President Barack Obama, which Trump threatened to cancel. Eventually, Trump allowed the refugees to resettle in the United States under the terms negotiated by Obama.
Pence is scheduled to stop in Hawaii on his return trip to Washington.