Mike Pence will lead US Olympic delegation in ‘signal to North Korea’ says insider
Vice-President Mike Pence will lead the US delegation to the Winter Olympics in South Korea next month in an attempt to send a signal to North Korea, according to a senior administration official.
Pence “is attending to reinforce the strong US presence on the Korean Peninsula and send a clear signal to the North Korean regime,” a White House official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The full US delegation has yet to be announced.
Pence also plans to travel to Alaska and Japan, according to the official, who requested anonymity to discuss the trip before an official announcement.
Part of the trip will include a review of intercontinental ballistic missile defence systems, the official said.
Pence, who travelled to South Korea and Japan last year and declared an end to “the era of strategic patience’’ with North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, will travel to the region in the wake of new diplomatic talks between the two Koreas.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said earlier this month that North Korea’s nuclear capabilities were a “reality’’ that the US and other nations would have to accept.
The country also told South Korean leaders this week that all of its missiles are pointed at the United States, and not at their “brothers” on the Korean Peninsula, or China or Russia.
Pence will travel with his wife, Karen Pence, and also show support for US military stationed abroad, the official said.
North and South Korea held their first official dialogue in more than two years on Tuesday.
In a modest diplomatic breakthrough Pyongyang – which boycotted the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul – plans to send a large delegation to the February 9-25 Games.
North Korea and the Trump administration are in a stand-off over Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un indicated that he wants to marry those two deadly technologies, producing a nuclear warhead capable of reaching almost anywhere in the continental United States.