- REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
- The US State Department says there are no plans for the American delegation to meet with North Korea during the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
- Vice President Mike Pence is meeting with the leaders of Japan and South Korea this week, and is expected to greet American athletes competing in the Games.
- Pence told reporters Monday night that his trip would signal a united front with Japan and South Korea in the face of North Korean aggression.
The US State Department said there were no plans for Vice President Mike Pence or his delegation to meet with North Korean leaders ahead of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said during a press briefing on Tuesday, “there are no plans to meet with any North Korean officials during or after the Olympics; I want to be clear about that. There are no plans to do so.”
“The Secretary and the Vice President said we’ll see what happens when we get to the Olympics and when he’s in the – when the Vice President is in the region,” Nauert said, appearing to suggest the possibility for face time may not be entirely out of the question.
US Vice President Mike Pence is in the region meeting with the leaders of Japan and South Korea.
In remarks published online early Tuesday morning, Pence highlighted two main goals for the visit: to signal a united front with Japanese and South Korean leaders in opposition to a rogue North Korea, and to cheer on American athletes at the Olympic Games, which are set to begin February 9.
But President Donald Trump’s right-hand man made it clear that the occasion will primarily be an exercise in isolating North Korea and its leader, Kim Jong-Un.
“We’ll collectively be reiterating our commitment between the United States, Japan, and South Korea, and a broad range of allies and partners around the world to continue to isolate North Korea economically and diplomatically until they abandon their nuclear and ballistic missile ambitions,” Pence told reporters.
“All options are on the table,” he said, adding that, with regard to the North, the US and its partners would continue to add “maximum pressure on an increasing basis.” That line echoes remarks Trump made during his State of the Union address last week.
North Korea has, to some degree, made a big show of its participation in the Winter Olympics in the weeks leading up to it, which included a propaganda blitz that North Korea experts have described as the regime’s attempt to score favorable press coverage.
Pence said the US hopes to ensure North Korea “doesn’t use the powerful symbolism and the backdrop of the Olympics to paper over the truth about their regime.”
Watch Pence’s remarks below:
Headed to Japan & S Koreato strengthen the relationship between the U.S & allies,reiterate our commitment to continue to isolate N Korea &ensure N Korea doesnâ¬”t use the Olympics to paper over the truthabout their regime which oppresses its own people & threatensother nations pic.twitter.com/sTOjD4jAwt
— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) February 6, 2018