After South Korea visit, Pence insists ‘no daylight’ on approach to North

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Vice President Mike Pence’s efforts to keep North Korea from stealing the show at the Winter Olympics proved short-lived, drowned out by images of the two Koreas marching and competing as one.

And as the South appeared to look favorably on warming ties on the Korean Peninsula, Pence insisted Saturday “there is no daylight” among the United States and allies South Korea and Japan in intensifying pressure on the North over its nuclear and missile programs.

Pence spent the days leading up to the PyeongChang Olympics warning that the North was trying to “hijack the message and imagery” of the event with its “propaganda.”

But the North was welcomed with open arms to what South Korean President Moon Jae-in called the “Olympic games of peace.”

It was the U.S. that appeared to be the one left in the cold, especially after the sister of the North Korean dictator extended an invitation from her brother for Moon to visit the North.

That was the clearest sign yet of an expanding diplomatic opening opposed by the Trump administration.

Pence said Moon updated him about the meeting he had with North Korean officials and “both of us reiterated to each other tonight that we will continue to stand strong and work in a coordinated way to bring maximum economic and diplomatic pressure to bear on North Korea.”

Pence said Friday that the U.S. would oppose talks between the two Koreas until the North agreed to open negotiations on ending its nuclear program.

On his flight to Alaska on Saturday, the vice president said he left Asia “encouraged that we will continue to work very closely to continue and intensify the maximum pressure campaign” against North Korea.

He said war had forged “the core of the bond” between the U.S. and South Korea and that helps explains “why there is no daylight and there will be no daylight” between the two.

At the opening ceremonies Friday, Pence sat stone-faced in his seat as Moon and North Korean officials stood together with much of the stadium to applaud their joint team of athletes.




Image: Mike Pence, Kim Yong Nam, Kim Yo Jong

Vice President Pence watches the opening ceremony seated in front of Kim Yo Jong, sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of North Korean Parliament.