Published: Sun, February 11, 2018
World | By Paul Elliott

Mike Pence to use Olympics to push tougher stance on North Korea

Mike Pence to use Olympics to push tougher stance on North Korea

The spokesman said Mr Moon also called for a quick resumption of dialogue between the United States and North Korea.

Kim's sister Kim Yo Jong, who is visiting South Korea to attend the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, delivered her brother's personal invitation during a meeting with Moon at the Blue House, a presidential spokesman said.

"The United States defined our self-defensive nuclear deterrence as a threat to world peace and legalized the modernization of its nuclear arsenals and its preemptive nuclear attack on our republic", the North's statement said in Korean. North Korea has tested a record number of missiles a year ago and has shown no interest in abandoning the country's nuclear program.

"Our resolve to stand with you is unshakable", Pence said. South Korean television showed its smiling president entering a reception room Saturday and shaking hands with the North Koreans.

"We want to see President Moon become a protagonist in opening a new chapter for reunification and leave great footprints in history", she said. Pence carried a similar message. US officials have grown increasingly dire in their warnings about the North's march toward developing an operational nuclear-tipped ballistic missile capable of reaching the continental U.S.

Moon joined Pence in the arena and sat next to him, turned around to greet Warmbier, according to a White House pool report.

Administration officials said they had long expected the North would seek to use the Olympics, taking place just 50 miles from the heavily mined Demilitarized Zone dividing the Koreas, as an opportunity to put a softer face on its regime, and painted Pence's visit as a counterbalance to those efforts.

Vice President Pence (R, front row) watches the joint march by the athletes of both Koreas at the opening ceremony of the Olympics on February 9, 2018, as South Korea President Moon Jae-in (L, front row) claps, North Korea's nominal head of state Kim Yong-nam (2nd from R, rear row) waves and Kim Yo-jong (R, rear row), the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, claps.

Providing fuel to the ferry would have been a hard decision for Seoul because of concerns that North Korea is trying to use the Olympics to poke holes in worldwide sanctions against the country over its nuclear and missile programs.

U.S. President Donald Trump and the North Korean leadership traded insults and threats of nuclear war as tensions rose, with Trump repeatedly dismissing the prospect or value of talks with North Korea.

The invitation was delivered by Kim Yo Jong, the sister of the North Korean leader, when she and other members of the North Korean delegation ate lunch with Moon at the presidential palace.

Moon will continue to warm relations across the Korean Peninsula on Saturday, when he and Kim Yong-nam watch Korea's women's hockey team - the first-ever unified squad - open group play against Switzerland.

But Ms Kim has risen to greater authority far more quickly than her once powerful aunt, said Dr Cheong Seong Chang, an analyst at the Sejong Institute think-tank.

A big one could be a demand to cease the US-South Korean war games that North Korea claims are preparation for invasion.

His decision to dispatch his sister to the games is all the more significant since Kim Jong Un himself hasn't set foot outside North Korea or met a single head of state since he assumed power upon the death of their father, Kim Jong Il, in late 2011.

Pence traveled to South Korea to lead the USA delegation to today's opening ceremonies but has used his trip to participate in symbolic events meant to shine a spotlight on North Korea's nuclear program and human-rights abuses.

North Korea has spent years developing its military, saying it needs to protect itself from USA aggression.

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