State Dept. calls North Korea military parade a 'dog and pony show'

The North Korean Olympic team have been given a festive official welcome to the athletes village

When the Olympic flame is lit in Pyeongchang, a previously little-known corner of South Korea, around 3,000 athletes from all over the world will compete for a record 102 gold medals in 15 sports until February 25.

USA officials declined to offer details on the expected new sanctions beyond Pence's comments, citing concerns that any additional information could be used by those trying to skirt the new measures.

The move by Pence, who has described the North as the "most tyrannical and oppressive regime", is in line with Washington's campaign to put "maximum pressure" on Pyongyang.

In opening remarks during his meeting with Moon, Pence said the United States would never waver in its goal of getting North Korea to give up its nuclear and ballistic missile programme through strong pressure, an aim shared with South Korea.

Pence also warned against allowing North Korea to use the Olympics for propaganda purposes.

"Our delegation's visit to South Korea is only to take part in the Olympics and hail its successful holding", Jo said.

"Explicitly speaking, we have no intention to meet with the USA side during the stay in South Korea".

Despite the scheduled high-level meeting, Pence said there was "no daylight" between the United States and South Korea on their North Korea policy.

"The U.S. administration [of President Donald Trump] stands firm against North Korea", Kim said.

China supports the conciliation and cooperation between South Korea and the DPRK, and hopes that the relevant parties will meet each other half way and to make joint efforts in further easing the situation on the Korean Peninsula and pushing forward the political settlement process on the peninsula issue, Han said. USA officials have grown increasingly dire in their warnings about the North's march toward developing an operational nuclear-tipped ballistic missile capable of reaching the continental U.S.

The mountain resort of Pyeongchang is located just 80km from the heavily fortified demilitarised zone (DMZ) that separates the two Koreas.

Hosting an informal lunch for the high level North Korean delegation avoids any protocol format where only one main speaker has a voice.

Earlier on Thursday, at Yokata Air Base in Japan, Pence said Washington would "continue to seize every opportunity" to ensure that North Korea does not use the Olympics to "paper over an appalling record of human rights and a pattern of developing weapons" that threaten the USA and the region.

And Pence's personal guest at the games will be Fred Warmbier, the father of Otto Warmbier, an American who died previous year days after his release from captivity in North Korea. Abe added that the US and Japan are "100 percent on the same page" on North Korean policy.

North Korea showed off its military might in a big parade in Pyongyang yesterday.

On Wednesday, the North announced that Kim Yo Jong, the sister of dictator Kim Jong-un, would attend the games, joining the country's nominal head of state, Kim Yong Nam.



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