TOKYO – US Vice President Mike Pence said on Wednesday that his country will not allow North Korea to hide its human rights abuses and war propaganda by putting up a peaceful facade at the Winter Olympics that are set to begin in PyeongChang in South Korea.
Pence is on an official visit to Japan before heading to South Korea to attend the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics, where athletes from North and South Korea will march together under a common flag, and which will also be attended by a high-ranking delegation of the Kim Jong-un regime.
“We will not allow North Korea to hide behind the Olympic banner the reality that they enslave their people and threaten the wider region,” Pence said in a press conference in Tokyo after meeting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
“We’ll be there to cheer our athletes, but we’ll also be there to stand with our allies, and remind the world that North Korea is the most tyrannical and oppressive regime on the planet,” he added.
Pence also announced that the US was set to impose “the toughest and most aggressive round of economic sanctions on North Korea ever,” aimed at isolating North Korea “until it abandons its nuclear and ballistic missile programs once and for all,”
He also reiterated the strategy of President Donald Trump’s administration of exerting “maximum pressure” on the regime while adding that “all options are on the table.”
Pence’s visit to Japan and South Korea comes at a time when tensions are easing between Seoul and the Kim Jong-un-led regime and amid speculations about possible meetings on the sidelines of the upcoming games between delegations from the two Koreas that might also include Pence.