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09 February 2018, 04:57 | Katrina Lee
US to impose 'toughest ever' sanctions on North Korea, Pence warns
In meetings with government leaders, military officials and US service members, Pence said he wants to make sure the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics don't distract from North Korea's human-rights abuses and nuclear program.
"It shows the North's resolve to defuse tension on the Korean Peninsula", Blue House spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom told a news briefing. Some analysts say she's a crucial part of the Kim regime, helping shape North Korean strategic policy as part of her brother's executive office.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is pouring cold water on the warming ties between North and South Korea just as the two still-warring countries are joining up to compete together in the Winter Olympics.
Pence says the objective of his trip is to ensure the North can't "hijack" the games, and his schedule includes symbolic events created to highlight North Korea's human rights abuses and nuclear program.
"We'll see what happens", Tillerson said Monday while traveling in Peru when asked if the administration would accept an invitation from North Korean officials to meet in South Korea.
Pence is due to arrive in South Korea on Thursday, coinciding with the arrival of the North's ceremonial leader, who is the most senior North Korean official to enter the South since the 1950-53 Korean War ended with a truce.
Kim Yo Jong and Kim Jong Un were born to the same mother, Ko Yong Hui.
Speaking in Tokyo on his way to South Korea, which is hosting the Games over the next three weeks, Pence said he would soon announce the stepped-up sanctions in an effort to pressure the North to abandon its nuclear and missile programs.
Almost 300 North Koreans crossed the Demilitarized Zone between the two countries on Wednesday to participate in the Olympics, including 229 women that were part of a large "cheering squad", The Washington Post reported. A potential escalation of sanctions could be USA blacklisting of Chinese banks accused of providing North Korea access to the worldwide financial system and facilitating sanctions evasion. As his guest at the opening ceremony, he is taking the father of Otto Warmbier, an American student who died past year after being imprisoned in North Korea for 17 months.
Pence told reporters that despite disagreements over how to approach North Korea, the state of the alliance between the USA and South Korea is "strong".
"North Korea can have a better future than the militaristic path and the path of provocation and confrontation that it's on", he said.
On Tuesday, a ferry carrying a North Korean orchestra arrived for the Games. But South Korea has been flexible with these rules as it accommodates the North Koreans to the Pyeongchang Games.
About 3 million South Koreans are estimated to have invested in cryptocurrencies and the country is home to one of the world's biggest private bitcoin exchanges. He urged countries "not to be lured by the charm offensive of North Korea", adding that the United States and Japan are "100 percent on the same page" on North Korean policy.
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