Published: Sat, February 10, 2018
World | By Paul Elliott

VP Pence uses Olympics to push tougher stance on N. Korea

VP Pence uses Olympics to push tougher stance on N. Korea

South Korean President Moon Jae-in (R) toasts North Korea's ceremonial head of States Kim Yong-nam in a reception held in Yongpyeong, 200 kilometers east of Seoul, just before the opening of the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games on February 9, 2018.

Earlier on Friday, Pence said Moon gave his backing to additional measures the United States is planning to try to curb North Korea's missile and nuclear programs, speaking after paying tribute at a South Korean memorial.

The group is fringe, but their demonstrations have generated irate reactions in North Korea's state-run media and could potentially spin out into a major incident if they ever manage to get closer to the North Koreans themselves - or especially Ms Kim and her entourage.

Vice President Mike Pence's tour, which was meant in part to counter the North's outreach to Seoul, has taken a back seat to the highly anticipated meetings between senior North Korean officials and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

While Mr. Moon and Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, both shook hands with Mr. Kim, Mr. Pence did not, South Korean officials said.

"President Buhari believes that the patriotism, sacrifice, hard work and personal dedication of these Nigerian athletes, who chose to stand with our homeland and lift our flag high at the PyeongChang Olympic Stadium in South Korea, will continue to inspire Nigerians, especially our young people", the statement read in part.

Skeptics say North Korea, which is unlikely to give up its nukes under any deal, is just using the Olympics to poke holes at the US-led global sanctions against the country and buy more time to further advance its strategic weaponry.

General view of the Pyeong Chang Olympic stadium at the Opening Ceremony of the Pyeong Chang 2018 Olympic Winter Games
General view of the Pyeong Chang Olympic stadium at the Opening Ceremony of the Pyeong Chang 2018 Olympic Winter Games

He is due to meet the North Korean delegation for talks on Saturday according to Yonhap.

The ceremony's signature moment delivered another flash of unity as two athletes from the joint Koreas women's hockey team climbed the stairs to the cauldron with the Olympic torch.

Lee Hee-beom, head of the Games organising committee, said "the North and South have become one through the Olympics".

CNN reported Friday that during a luncheon between the delegates and Moon, Kim Yo Jong may invite the president to visit Pyongyang sometime this year, citing several diplomatic sources with deep knowledge of the North's intentions.

Kim Yo Jong had remained out of the public spotlight until about three years ago, when she began being photographed beside her brother at official ceremonies.

She smiled brightly as she was greeted by South Korean officials led by Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon at a meeting room at Incheon International Airport.

The host nation's stance on welcoming their neighbours from the north to this year's Winter Games was hailed by the IOC as the embodiment of the Olympic spirit. Other countries followed in alphabetical order, based the Korean alphabet.

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