Mike Pence insists 'no daylight' between US and South Korea over talks


"There is no daylight between the United States, the Republic of Korea and Japan on the need to continue to isolate North Korea economically and diplomatically until they abandon their nuclear and ballistic missile program", Pence told reporters on his flight back to the United States.

Already there have been concerns that North Korea's overture of the sports diplomacy is an indirect attempt by the regime to wedge a rift between the US and South Korea.

Pence, by contrast, avoided speaking with North Korean officials Friday, and he and his wife did not stand, as most spectators did, when the athletes from both Koreas marched together under a flag representing a unified Korea. That some South Koreans do glimpse this - what percentage, we don't know - doesn't mean the dictator's sister is "winning a diplomatic dance" or that Pence's visit hasn't gone well, and it certainly doesn't mean that South Korea is about to be Finlandized. The Trump administration is still wary of any kind of engagement with the North.

In a stark illustration of his efforts to pull in Pyongyang without pushing away Washington, Moon watched short-track speedskating with Vice President Mike Pence at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics on Saturday night.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, left, shakes hands with South Korean President Moon Jae-in during their meeting at the presidential office Blue House in Seoul Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018.

Even with Mr Pence's insistence that the US and South Korea are unified in their opposition to North Korea and its nuclear programme, relations between the two Koreas has appeared to thaw recently.

He said war had forged "the core of the bond" between the US and South Korea and that helps explains "why there is no daylight and there will be no daylight" between the two.

Any meeting would be a landmark moment not only for the two nations, but for Moon Jae-in, who rose to power previous year on a policy of engaging more with the North in an attempt to bring peace to the Korean Peninsula.

Mr. Sung said that the organizers sold 99 percent of 35,000 tickets to the opening ceremony, though viewers noticed many empty seats.

North and South Korea are technically still at war after their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce rather than a peace treaty. But North Korea's record on human rights and the growing threat from its nuclear weapons program appeared out of mind.

Even at the games, which have been billed as an opportunity for peace, tensions between the USA and North Korea remained high.

At a Friday VIP reception for delegation leaders, Pence arrived late and stayed for just five minutes - and did not interact with the delegation from the North.

"The Koreans will think it's a mood kill", said Frank Jannuzi, an expert on East Asia at the Mansfield Foundation in Washington. He criticized the Trump administration for straining too hard to signal disgust of Kim Jong Un's government.

In a tweet, she referenced the death of Otto Warmbier, an American college student who died last year after being held prisoner for more than a year and a half in North Korea.

"We hope that President (Moon) could leave a legacy that would last over generations by leading the way in opening a new era of unification", she said. "We all join and support you in your message of peace", he said.