The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Tuesday slammed Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for trying to sow disputes among Koreans by planning to attend the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
In Japan, he will meet with Prime Minster Shinzo Abe and US service members.
North and South Korea will send a "powerful message of peace" to the world when they march together under one flag at the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang Winter Games, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach said on Monday. This has created a temporary thaw in nuclear tensions, but some experts say North Korea probably wants to use its Olympic overture to drive a wedge between Seoul and Washington and weaken global sanctions against it.
North Korea will participate in the upcoming Olympics in South Korean Pyeongchang, following a thaw and a series of talks with its southern neighbor.
By tapping Kim as chief delegate for the Olympics, presidential spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom said Pyongyang has shown to Seoul its "willingness to improve South-North relations and make the Games a successful event".
If the vice president does take a meeting, it would likely be with Kim Yong Nam, a top North Korean official who leads the country's 22-member delegation to the games.
But when asked by reporters about a potential meeting with North Koreans on Tuesday, Pence said he had not requested a meeting, "but we'll see what happens".
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"In general we welcome such atmosphere of the dialogue but at the same time our position is that we should be more realistic", Takehiro Shimada, minister for Communications and Cultural Affairs of the Japanese Embassy in the USA, said in an interview.
The White House cast the meeting as part of the Trump administration's "maximum pressure" campaign to counter the North Korean nuclear program. As his guest for the opening ceremony on Friday, Pence is bringing the father of Otto Warmbier, an American student who was imprisoned in North Korea for 17 months and died in June 2017 from lack of oxygen and blood to the brain. "North Korea is made for propaganda - it's a propaganda state in many ways".
"If Trump does not get rid of his anachronistic and dogmatic way of thinking, it will only bring about the outcome of further endangering security and future of the United States", the government said in comments carried by the North's official Korean Central News Agency.
The North Koreans have sought to portray themselves as a rational nuclear power pursuing diplomacy while the USA stokes the flames of war.
The ethnic Koreans who donated the ferry had used it to travel between Japan and North Korea, sending money and other resources back to North.
"Everything the North Koreans do at the Olympics is a charade to cover up the fact that they are the most tyrannical and oppressive regime on the planet", the aide said.