SENSATIONAL claims were aired in the USA last night that President Donald Trump’s “armada” that is supposed to be sailing towards North Korea is actually going the other way.

The respected Defense News publication broke the story yesterday, claiming that the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson and its support fleet were actually 3000 miles from the Korean peninsula.

The New York Times – admittedly no friend of Trump – went further last night, posting on its website that the ships were sailing in the opposite direction to Korea when the administration said otherwise.

It reported: “The problem was, the carrier, the Carl Vinson, and the four other warships in its strike force were at that very moment sailing in the opposite direction, to take part in joint exercises with the Australian Navy in the Indian Ocean, 3500 miles southwest of the Korean Peninsula.

“White House officials said yesterday they were relying on guidance from the Defense Department. Officials there described a glitch-ridden sequence of events, from a premature announcement of the deployment by the military’s Pacific Command to an erroneous explanation by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis — all of which perpetuated the false narrative that an American armada was racing toward the waters off North Korea.”

Pyongyang has been silent on the claims and indeed was playing things quietly yesterday while the Trump administration continued to talk tough even if they apparently didn’t know where the “armada” was.

Vice-president Mike Pence said yesterday during his visit to Japan that the USA will not relent until it achieves its objective of ensuring the Korean Peninsula is free of nuclear weapons.

After meeting Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Pence told reporters that Trump was confident that economic and diplomatic pressure has a chance of compelling North Korea to cooperate.

The Vice-president said: “It is our belief by bringing together the family of nations with diplomatic and economic pressure we have a chance of achieving a freeze on the Korean Peninsula.

“We will not rest and will not relent until we obtain the objective of a denuclearised Korean Peninsula.”

Speaking at a US naval base, Pence said: “We appreciate the challenging times in which the people of Japan live, with increasing provocations from across the Sea of Japan. We are with you 100 per cent.”

The position taken by China to its traditional ally becomes ever more vital for Trump’s administration.

Mattis said yesterday that the USA and China are working “closely” over North Korea.

Speaking in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, Mattis said that Sunday’s failed ballistic missle test by North Korea “shows why we are working so closely right now with the Chinese, coming out of the Mar-a-Lago meeting” in Florida between the two nations’ leaders earlier this month. Mattis added that the American-Chinese effort seeks to “get this under control and aim for the denuclearised Korean peninsula” and concluded: “We all share that same interest.”

Meanwhile, Trump has come under fire from some Asian historians over his poor grasp of the story of China and Korea.

Trump said at the weekend that he and President Xi went into the history of China and Korea. Not North Korea, Korea.

And you know, you’re talking about thousands of years … and many wars. And Korea actually used to be a part of China.”

The history books actually state that while China may have conquered Korea and made it a vassal state during the time of the Mongol emperors such as Kublai Khan, at no time was Korea annexed into China proper.