US VP Avoids North Koreans, Stresses 'Maximum Pressure' Ahead of Olympics

US Vice President Mike Pence held talks with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the Blue House in Seoul

US Vice President Mike Pence held talks with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the Blue House in Seoul

"We will continue to urge North Korea to take specific action toward resolving the issues of abductions and nuclear and missile development under close cooperation among Japan, South Korea and the United States". However, "If they (the North Koreans) had approached him (in the box) he would have responded", added the official. "We wanted the North Koreans to see the vice president, Abe and Moon sitting directly in front of them for the opening ceremonies, and it would show that that alliance is strong", said a White House official traveling with Mr. Pence.

The PyeongChang Games mark the first time North and South Korea will compete as one at the Olympics, but Vice President Mike Pence apparently did not deem the moment worthy of applause.

While Moon and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe both shook hands with Kim, the US Vice-President did not, South Korean officials said.

A separate reception hosted by Moon in the mountain resort of Pyeongchang was the culmination of months of work by Seoul, which seeks to use the Olympics to ease tension spurred by North Korea's pursuit of nuclear weapons.

On Thursday, Seong-ho met and embraced Fred Warmbier, the father of Otto Warmbier - the USA student who died in 2016 after being imprisoned in North Korea for 17 months.


Dark chocolate tempered in the shape of barbed wire lay over a map of the Korean peninsula rendered in thin blue chocolate, a representation of the heavily militarised border that separates South Korea and the North.

The presence of a unified delegation and team for North and South Korea at this year's Olympic Games gives people hope for a world dedicated to peace through dialogue and respect, Pope Francis said.

Pence had said all week that if he met with the North Koreans, he would deliver a tough message.

Hwang had been dismissed following an inspection into the bureau and sent to a party school for re-education, the South's National Intelligence Service said earlier this week.

Talk of combining teams was broached ahead of the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul but did not happen.

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