Pence announces 'toughest' United States sanctions on North Korea

09 February, 2018, 04:59 | Author: Shannon Newton
  • North Korean cheering squads arrive at the Korean-transit office on their way to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. Ahn Young-joon-Pool  Getty Images

Kim Yo Jong's trip, a rare visit to the South by a member of the North's ruling family, is a measure of her political clout, according to analysts.

North Korea's foreign ministry official Cho Yong-Sam said: "We have no intention whatsoever to meet United States authorities during our visit to the South".

"Together with our allies and partners, we will continue to strive to peacefully dismantle North Korea's nuclear programme and alleviate the suffering of its people", Pence said.

He will travel to South Korea on Thursday for meetings with President Moon Jae-in, where he will promote the Trump administration's campaign of "maximum pressure" against the North, as the South pursues a diplomatic opening around the Winter Olympics.

"But we should encourage more dialogue between north and south if it leads to North Korea abiding by its global obligations to cease its illegal weapons and nuclear programs". North Korea's nominal head of state and senior statesman, 90-year-old Kim Yong Nam, is expected to join her.

In Washington, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters Wednesday that Pence is "quite capable of making the call" on whether to meet with North Korean officials at the Olympics.

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Leader Kim Jong-un's latest move comes just ahead of the Winter Olympics taking place in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Responding to the furor, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said athletes from both countries would receive the phones but that the North Koreans would be asked not to take the devices home.

In this May 10, 2016, photo, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, right, and his sister Kim Yo Jong watch a military parade at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang.

Seoul has said the delegation is due to arrive on Friday.

The plans have been revealed as South Korea hopes for the Games to be remembered as a "peace Olympics". "As he also said, we will see what happens".

They proved an instant hit with onlookers, with one South Korean admirer tweeting: "By the way, I love the North Korean cheering squad's outfit".

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South Korea expressed delight that she's coming, saying it shows North Korea's sincerity for improving relations.

In this image made from video by North Korea's KRT, a military parade is held in Pyongyang, North Korea Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018.

Asked if war with North Korea is closer than when Trump took office a year ago, Mattis said USA policy is "firmly in the diplomatic lane", as shown by agreement among world powers to increase sanctions.

Kim Yo Jong's stay in PyeongChang could include chance encounters with Vice President Mike Pence, who will attend the opening ceremonies, and Ivanka Trump, who will appear at the closing ceremonies.

The U.N. Security Council has unanimously boosted sanctions on North Korea since 2006 in a bid to choke funding for Pyongyang's nuclear and ballistic missile programs, banning exports including coal, iron, lead, textiles and seafood, and capping imports of crude oil and refined petroleum products.

In a meeting, Abe and Pence discussed the fact that North Korea has conducted "ship-to-ship" smuggling transfers at sea of goods from other countries, such as refined petroleum products.

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But privately, officials said, Pence expressed concern to Moon about his more conciliatory tone toward North Korea. Spavor known as the person, among other things, who helped organize National Basketball Association star Dennis Rodman's trip to the DPRK and visited Kim Jong-un summer residence with him. "As long as North Korea fails to show a honest attitude and take concrete actions toward its denuclearization, there are no prospects for meaningful dialogue".

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