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VP Pence to Lead US Delegation to Winter Olympics

  • VOA News

People pass a banner promoting the upcoming 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic as official mascots, a white tiger 'Soohorang' for the Olympic, and the Asiatic black bear "Bandabi" for the Paralympic (Bottom-R) are displayed in downtown in Seoul, South Korea, Jan. 9, 2018.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and second lady Karen Pence will lead the U.S. delegation to the Winter Olympics in South Korea next month, the White House said Wednesday.

The vice president will also travel to Alaska to review intercontinental ballistic missile defense systems during his trip, and make a stop in Japan. The White House said Pence will stress to Japanese and South Korean leaders the U.S.'s commitment to stability in the region.

"The Vice President is traveling to the Olympic Games in South Korea to reinforce the strong U.S. presence on the Korean Peninsula and send a clear message of American resolve to the North Korean regime,” said Jarrod Agen, Deputy Chief of Staff to Vice President Pence. “The Vice President will reaffirm to the leaders of Japan and South Korea the United States' unwavering commitment to our allies and to deter and defend against the North Korean threat. In addition to showing support for our U.S. athletes, the Vice President will show his confidence in and appreciation for our U.S. military stationed in the region.”

North Korea agreed Tuesday to send a high-level delegation to the Winter Olympics, which begin February 9 in Pyeongchang.

The offer was made Tuesday during the first face-to-face talks, between the autocratic North and the democratic South, in Panmunjom, the so-called "peace village" straddling the border where the 1953 armistice that ended the fighting in the Korean War was signed

Tuesday's talks broke a long freeze in inter-Korean relations, escalated by North Korea's development of its nuclear and ballistic missile weapons programs in defiance of international sanctions and aggravated by belligerent rhetoric between the North Korean leader and the U.S. president.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in thanked U.S. President Donald Trump Tuesday, saying he deserves credit for helping make the cross-border exchange possible. Moon said the U.S.-led sanctions against the regime, along with continued pressure, likely brought Pyongyang back to the negotiating table.

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