Mike Pence has insisted "there is no daylight" among the United States and allies South Korea and Japan over their stance on Pyongyang.
The US Vice President 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 "Olympic games of peace."
It was the US 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."
Moon was all smiles as he greeted Kim Yo-jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, and Kim Yong-nam, the country’s 90-year-old nominal head of state, for lunch at the presidential residence.
Kim Jong-uns family tree
Pence said on Friday that the US would oppose talks between the two Koreas until the North agreed to open negotiations on ending its nuclear programme.
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.
"The grievances that the world has about North Korea are very legitimate. But the Olympic moment that President Moon is trying to generate here is not a time to nurse those grievances," Jannuzi said. "It’s a time to focus on messages of reconciliation and peace."
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