Pence Starts Asia Trip Amid Signs Of Strain With South Korea

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence speaks during a joint announcement with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Abe’s official residence in Tokyo Japan

The ceremony will also be attended by a senior delegation of North Korean officials, including the younger sister of leader Kim Jong Un and the North's nominal head of state, Kim Yong Nam.

While Seoul supports the Trump administration's pressure campaign and agrees that improvement in inter-Korean relations requires progress on the nuclear issue, the US and South Korea face a stiff challenge in reconciling their contrasting tactics of confrontation and conciliation.

The next day, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders released a statement to reporters saying Trump's position on North Korea had not changed.

South Korea asked the United Nations on Wednesday for an exemption to allow a U.N. sanctioned North Korean official, Choe Hwi, to attend the opening ceremony with Kim Yo Jong.

Pope Francis on Wednesday (Feb 7) praised as a gesture for a "better world" plans for a joint parade Friday by delegations from South and North Korea to open the Winter Olympics.

Pence told reporters en route to Tokyo that the goal of his trip was to "make sure that North Korea doesn't use the powerful symbolism and the backdrop of the Winter Olympics to paper over the truth about their regime".




Kim Byung-kee, a member of South Korea's parliamentary intelligence committee, said North Korea stole cryptocurrency worth billions of South Korean Won (millions in USA dollars) over the course of the a year ago. USA 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.

Trump has repeatedly declared that he will not allow North Korea to develop a nuclear missile capable of hitting the American mainland-which Central Intelligence Agency director Mike Pompeo says is now just "a handful of months" away. North Korea time at Kim Il-sung square. Kim Yo Jong, believed to be around 30, will be the first member of North Korea's ruling family to visit South Korea since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.

Speaking in Tokyo Wednesday, US Vice President Mike Pence sought to increase pressure on Pyongyang, warning the US would "continue to isolate North Korea until it abandons its nuclear and ballistic missile programs once and for all".

North Korea has shown increasing interest in cryptocurrency over the a year ago, likely as a result of a number of factors including the sudden rise of value of numerous cryptocurrencies as well as new economic sanctions that have made it hard for the isolated nation to generate revenue. He also participated in a briefing at Japan's Ministry of Defense on the threat.

Abe echoed Pence's comments, urging countries "not to be lured by the charm offensive of North Korea".

Earlier, Pence visited a Japanese Patriot PAC-3 missile battery, Japan's last line of defense against any possible North Korean missile strike. He will also meet with four or five North Korean defectors and be accompanied by the father of Otto Warmbier, the American university student who died after being jailed in North Korea. Abe added that the US and Japan are "100 percent on the same page" on North Korean policy.

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