Vice President Mike Pence addresses service members at Yokota Air Base Japan Feb. 8 2018. Air Force
08 February, 2018, 15:57
Mr. Rippon similarly last month, saying he "wouldn't go out of [his] way" to meet with the vice president if given the opportunity before the 2018 Olympics kick off in PyeongChang, South Korea.
North Korea test-fired ballistic missiles over Japan a year ago, as well as a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile that climbed to an altitude of more than 4,000 km (2,485 miles) before splashing into the sea within Japan's exclusive economic zone.
On Wednesday, the North announced that Kim Yo Jong, the sister of dictator Kim Jong Un, would attend the games, joining the country's 90-year-old nominal head of state, Kim Yong Nam. A potential escalation of sanctions could be the USA blacklisting Chinese banks accused of providing North Korea access to the global financial system and facilitating sanctions evasion.
Pence said before arriving his message to the North was clear: Washington and its allies would keep pressing Pyongyang to give up its missile and nuclear programs.
While publicly supportive of the North-South talks over the Olympics issue and the subsequent cooperation, the U.S. is wary of allowing North Korea's government to gain economic concessions from the south through its so-called "charm offensive".
North Korea test-fired ballistic missiles over Japan previous year, as well as a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile that climbed to an altitude of more than 4,000 km (2,485 miles) before splashing into the sea within Japan's exclusive economic zone.
"Weve seen some of these elements before but to put them all together in one place and deliver them standing beside Prime Minister Abe in Japan constitutes a frontal assault on Moons North Korea policy", Straub said.
Kim's warnings were not the first acknowledgement of North Korea's attempts to interfere with the operations of South Korean exchanges.
"That's a signal of the administration's strategy on North Korea hardening, because when you start meeting with defectors, you're starting to call into question the legitimacy of the North Korean regime", Medeiros said.
Pence told reporters that despite disagreements over how to approach North Korea, the state of the alliance between the US and South Korea is "strong".
Abe said he and Pence had agreed in talks that they could "never accept a nuclear-armed North Korea".
Concern about North Korea is pushing Japan to update its missile defense.
Vice President Mike Pence isn't ruling out a meeting with North Korean leaders in Pyeongchang at the Olympic Games this month.
Beijing, even while supporting sanctions resolutions in the past, has been reluctant to fully implement them for fear of causing the regime to collapse.
All the sanctions require the cooperation of China and, to a lesser extent, Russia, which are both veto-wielding permanent members of the Security Council and both share borders with North Korea.
Mr. Kenworthy and figure skater Adam Rippon are the first two openly gay male athletes to represent the U.S.in the Winter Olympics.
With a possible meeting hanging in the air, Pence, for a third time, held out the prospect of better relations.
White House officials said Pence was expected to continue to bring attention to North Korea's human rights abuses on the trip, and offer of reminder of grim conditions in North Korea.