Pence says NK must give up nukes before talks

Pence pushes S. Korea toward more hawkish N. Korea policy

Pence pushes S. Korea toward more hawkish N. Korea policy

Pence said Friday that the US would oppose talks between the two Koreas until the North agreed to open negotiations on ending its nuclear program. But North Korea's record on human rights and the growing threat from its nuclear weapons program appeared out of mind.

Providing fuel to the ferry would have been a hard decision for Seoul because of concerns that North Korea is trying to use the Olympics to poke holes in worldwide sanctions against the country over its nuclear and missile programs.

As Pence sat with South Korean President Moon Jae-In amid a heavy blanket of security that delayed many fans from getting to the venue for the start, the show was stolen by the colorful group of North Korean cheerleaders dispatched south of the border by leader Kim Jong Un. Dozens of South Koreans at the airport tried to snap photographs of her on their mobile phones.

Seen by some as her brother's answer to American first daughter Ivanka Trump, Kim, 30, is not only a powerful member of Kim Jong Un's kitchen cabinet but also a foil to the perception of North Korea as antiquated and militaristic.

South Korea and the United States had agreed to postpone their annual spring military exercises until after the Olympics, partly to encourage North Korea to participate - and to not act as a spoiler. They stressed the North Koreans in the VIP box had watched Pence, Moon and Abe hold a running discussion in the front row for the more than two-hour ceremonies. But the Trump administration insists any negotiations must include the global community's demands that the North abandon its nuclear weapons program.

The ferry also left the port of Mukho and returned to the North immediately after the North Koreans departed for the South Korean capital.

A White House official says U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un were seated just feet apart during Friday's Olympic opening ceremony, but they did not interact.

Pence had kept open the possibility for some contact with the North Koreans in South Korea, while reiterating Washington's insistence that denuclearization by North Korea is a necessary condition for peace. "The world cannot turn a blind eye to the oppression & threats of the Kim regime".

"There is no daylight between the United States, the Republic of Korea and Japan on the need to continue to isolate North Korea economically and diplomatically until they abandon their nuclear and ballistic missile programme", Pence said as he flew back to the United States. "I leave this trip encouraged that we will continue to work very closely to continue and intensify the maximum pressure campaign that is underway against the regime in Pyongyang".

The North Korean leader in turn has called Trump a "dotard" and threatened to fire missiles into the waters near the Pacific Island of Guam previous year.

Moon sees the Olympics as an opportunity to restore meaningful communication with North Korea after an extended diplomatic stalemate over its nuclear ambitions.

Moon, meanwhile, has expressed hope the Olympics détente could lead to a broader dialogue with the United States.

However, the result mattered less than the political symbolism as around 200 of North Korea's famed "army of beauties" charmed a crowd of 3,600 besotted locals with nostalgic oldies - and even broke out a Mexican wave.

"Both tracks doable but tight ally coordination key", she wrote on Twitter.

North and South Korea are technically still at war after their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce rather than a peace treaty. VP hangs out with US athletes instead of dining with Kim regime. The North Koreans have invited Moon to visit Pyongyang in what would be the third inter-Korean summit talks since their 1945 division.

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