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Pence, Warmbier's father meet with North Korean defectors

12 February 2018, 08:18 | Taylor George

Pence, Warmbier's father meet with North Korean defectors

Pence, Warmbier's father meet with North Korean defectors

As part of his push against North Korean propaganda, Pence attended the short track speed skating with Fred Warmbier, the father of an American student who died a year ago after being imprisoned in North Korea for 17 months.

Vice President Mike Pence is lending his "hearty support" to President Donald Trump's request for the Pentagon to organize a military parade, even as he condemns North Korea's choreographed displays of military might ahead of the Winter Olympic games. During their meeting, she invited him to visit North Korea. Wearing a black coat and with her hair pulled back, she presents a marked contrast to the ceremonial head of North Korea's government - the often expressionless Kim Yong Nam, 90.

Administration officials said they had long expected the North would seek to use the Olympics, taking place just 50 miles from the heavily-mined Demilitarized Zone dividing the Koreas, as an opportunity to put a softer face on the regime, and painted Pence's visit as a counterbalance to those efforts.

"Honestly, I didn't know I would come here so suddenly".

A Blue House official said Moon "practically accepted" the invitation. Both Reunification Rainbow and We are One sing about uniting Korea from Mt. Baekdu (the northernmost mountain in North Korea) to Mt. Hanna/Halla (the southernmost mountain in South Korea).

Aides said was simply running late and he did not deliberately snub the North Koreans. It was built in the 1960s under the government of late anti-communist dictator Park Chung-hee as a luxury facility for US troops stationed in South Korea.

Mr Pence warned that the world would see "a charm offensive by North Korea" on Friday, "but today we thought it was important to make sure the truth is told".

Mr Pence is in Pyeongchang to cheer on American athletes, but he is also warning the world against falling for the glossy image of the two Koreas as they march in the opening ceremony under one flag.

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He also said that the two countries should continue close cooperation and consultation to help the North make the right decision. Later, he skipped a formal dinner at which he was due to share a table with North Korea's ceremonial head of state Kim Yong Nam.

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The result of this opening game - an 8-0 drubbing - mattered little. But South Korea has said the agreement failed to meet victims' needs, calling for more steps.

Even on a brutally cold February evening, there were moments aplenty to warm the heart during a Winter Olympics opening ceremony which had peace as its central theme. They noted that the plane had been given the flight number 615 - a reference to June 15, the final day of the first inter-Korean summit in 2000.

The South Korean president also stressed the need for the communist North to resume its dialogue with the United States.

Analysts say the North's decision Kim Yo Jong to the Olympics shows an ambition to break out from diplomatic isolation and pressure by improving relations with the South, which it could use as a bridge for approaching the United States.

The games have not reduced the US -led worldwide pressure on North Korea to give up its nuclear and long-range missile program that is threatening America and the world.

The cheerleading troupe also attended the opening ceremony at Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium on Friday night, where they sat silently throughout the show until the unified Korean team entered the stadium.

As recently as January, Pyongyang called for "all Koreans at home and abroad" to "promote contact, travel, cooperation between North and South Korea".

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach then handed the podium to Moon, who declared the Olympics officially open. "We're happy", he said. But North Korea watchers aren't convinced that Moon will stay on script. Reviving inter-Korean dialogue is critical for the policies of Moon, who insists that Seoul should be in control in worldwide efforts to deal with the North Korean nuclear issue.



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