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Mike Pence: USS Carl Vinson Location Snafu Wasn't Intentional

Mike Pence: USS Carl Vinson Location Snafu Wasn't Intentional

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer insisted Wednesday that President Donald Trump didn't mislead or misspeak when he indicated last week that an "armada" was steaming toward North Korea in a show of US military might.

More than a week earlier, on April 8, the U.S. Navy announced that a strike group led by the USS Carl Vinson had been diverted north from Singapore to the Western Pacific as speculation mounted that North Korea was preparing a nuclear or missile test.

"We are sending an armada", President Donald Trump told a TV news interviewer last week about the USA response to provocations from North Korea. That's a fact. It happened.

The U.S. Navy strike fleet headed by USS Carl Vinson was thousands of kilometers away from the Korean peninsula last weekend.

On Monday Pacific Command published photos of the Vinson with captions saying it was passing the Sunda Strait between Sumatra and Java and the Indian Ocean last Saturday.

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"And I'll determine when she gets there and where she actually operates - but the Vinson is going to be part of our ensuring that we stand by our allies in the north-west Pacific". They are now headed directly toward the peninsula.

Pentagon chief Jim Mattis on April 11 said the Vinson was "on her way up" to the peninsula.

He said the only the White House was asked about it "was what signal it sent, and I think we answered that very correctly at the time".

South Korean presidential candidate Hong Joon-pyo told The Wall Street Journal of the carrier mix-up: "What Mr. Trump said was very important for the national security of South Korea".

North Korea expert Joel Wit, at the 38 North monitoring group, said it raised questions about the Trump administration's credibility.

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But according to Spicer, Trump's comments shouldn't have been taken to mean the peninsula was the carrier group's first stop. It said the group would skip out on "previously planned port visits to Australia".

It was widely assumed that the carrier group was patrolling somewhere within range last weekend, when USA officials feared Kim Jong Un's military would conduct a sixth underground nuclear test, or would try to test-launch an intercontinental ballistic missile for the first time.

He said the United States was "working closely" with China to engage North Korea.

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US Defense Secretary James Mattis attempted to address the confusion on Wednesday, arguing that the change of course was disclosed in the interest of transparency.

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But that test hasn't happened yet, though North Korean leader Kim Jong-un attempted to launch a missile Sunday that the Pentagon said blew up nearly immediately after launch.