Pence: US 'ready for any eventuality' on N.Korea

Air Force 2 lands at Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson Monday evening

The Koreas agreed to open their conciliatory gestures over the Pyeongchang Games with joint practices and friendly competitions between their skiers at North Korea's Masik winter resort.

He added he's not ruling out the possibility of meeting with north Korean leaders while at the games.

"We will not allow North Korea to hide behind the Olympic banner the reality that they enslave their people and threaten the wider region", Pence said Wednesday after meetings with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo.

Pence's trip to South Korea from Thursday will coincide with a visit to the Games by North Korea's ceremonial leader, Kim Yong Nam, the most senior North Korean official to enter the South since the 1950-53 Korean War ended with a truce.

President Trump's daughter, Ivanka, will lead the US delegation to the closing ceremonies of the Winter Olympics.

Vice President Mike Pence is seeking to reassure and refocus American allies on the growing nuclear threat from North Korea with visits to Japan and South Korea this week.

He also ratcheted up his rhetoric on the North's human rights abuses in a speech to US service members at Yokota Air Base in Japan. "Those who dare raise their voices in dissent are imprisoned, tortured and even murdered, and their children and grandchildren are routinely punished for their family's sins against the state".

In Alaska, Pence will tour missile defense facilities. He told troops to "be vigilant", warning against falling for the North's diplomatic overtures.

"Let the world know, from here in Yokota Air Base and beyond, we are ready for any eventuality".

Pence's strenuous efforts to highlight the threat from the North and its treatment of its people present a dilemma for Moon. He has limited room to maneuver as his guest from Washington strongly criticizes the North and emphasizes the need to crank up the pressure campaign.

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Pence will leading the US delegation to the Olympic Opening Ceremonies.

He says the real test will come later, after the Olympic Games are over.

Interested in North Korea?

South Korea's Unification Ministry announced that Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of Kim, will also be part of the high-level North Korean delegation at the games. A potential escalation of sanctions could be the USA blacklisting Chinese banks accused of providing North Korea access to the worldwide financial system and facilitating sanctions evasion. It allowed North Korea to use a 9,700-ton ferry to transport more than 100 artists to perform at the Olympics and says it's considering whether to accept the North's request to supply fuel for the ship.

Pence also stated that "all options are on the table".

Senior administration officials told CNN the South Korean government is pushing for Pence to hold some sort of meeting with the North Koreans and is quietly acting as an intermediary in trying to make it happen.

As the South celebrates its so-called "Peace Olympics" and the North steals the show with carefully-crafted propaganda, the U.S.is working hard to prevent North Korea from hijacking the message.

Pence said the USA delegation at the Games would be there to cheer its athletes, but "we'll also be there to stand with our allies".

Abe also said he and Pence fully discussed issues related to North Korea, analyzing the latest information about the country and exchanging opinions on what measures to implement. In Japan, he will meet with Prime Minster Shinzo Abe and USA service members. "And that is that North Korea must once and for all abandon its nuclear weapons programme and ballistic missile ambitions", he told reporters during the flight to Japan.

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