South Korean President Moon Jae-in will meet North Korean government delegates to the PyeongChang Olympic Games this week, his office said on Thursday.
North Korea is sending a delegation of athletes, performers and high-ranking officials, including the country's premier and Kim Jong Un's younger sister, Kim Yo Jong, who is believed to be one of his most trusted advisers.
The Pyeongchang Organizing Committee is refraining for now from giving out a premium smartphone to athletes from North Korea and Iran, not to step over the global sanctions created to pressure their governments from developing nuclear weapons.
But critics say the North is taking advantage of the Pyeongchang Games in a diplomatic drive to weaken sanctions imposed on it over its banned nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.
Pence says an estimated 100,000 North Korean citizens labor in modern-day gulags, and that those who dare raise their voices in dissent are imprisoned, tortured and even murdered.
All told, the North's delegation is expected to number in the hundreds - including about 22 athletes, various officials, 140 people in the Samjiyon Band, a taekwondo exhibition team and an all-female cheering group that always draws lots of attention from Japanese and South Korean television networks.
But the January 31 trip wasn't official until less than two hours before the chartered Asiana Airlines flight carrying the South Korean skiers took off for the North's Kalma Airport.
Trump and other senior officials have repeatedly said that time is running out before North Korea gains the capability to strike the US mainland with a nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile.
In the highest levels of government, Seoul and Washington are closely coordinating on North Korea and the alliance is being clouded by misperceptions regarding opposing viewpoints and approaches, he said.
North Korea has requested extra oil to help refuel a ship carrying members of its Olympic delegation, Seoul's Unification Ministry said Wednesday.
Offering the North any refined petroleum product is tricky because the UN Security Council allows the regime to import no more than 500,000 barrels of it a year.
"I'm announcing today that the U.S. will soon unveil the toughest and most aggressive round of economic sanctions on North Korea", Mr Pence said, standing alongside Mr Abe after talks on the threat posed by Pyongyang.
A spokesman for Moon announced he will meet members of the North Korean delegation, including Kim Yo Jong.
North Korea staged a highly anticipated military parade in Kim Il Sung Square, Pyongyang, Thursday on the eve of the 2018 Winter Olympics.
But Watt said his troops try to also remind visitors that while tense, the current situation is better than the horrors of the Korean War.
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