US Vice President Mike Pence says “there is no daylight” in the ongoing standoff between the US and North Korea over Payongyang’s missile and nuclear weapons programs, noting that Washington and its regional allies are going to maximize pressure on the North.
Speaking to reporters on his flight to Alaska on Saturday night, Pence said tensions between Washington and Pyongyang remain high although both Koreas were seemingly closer following the North’s agreement to send athletes to the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
While many expected the standoff to be toned down, Pence said that nothing had changed and South Korean President Moon Jae-in was also in favor of keeping the North under pressure.
“Both of us reiterated to each other tonight that we will continue to stand strong and work in a coordinated way to bring maximum economic and diplomatic pressure to bear on North Korea,” he said of his meeting with the South Korean head of state.
Earlier in the day, Pence said Washington had decided to halt joint military exercises in the region until after the tournament.
“President [Donald] Trump and, and our allies in the region have agreed to delay our military exercises until after the Olympics,” he told NBC News.
“But we’re gonna make it crystal clear that our military, the Japanese self-defense forces, our allies here in South Korea, all of our allies across the region, are, are fully prepared to defend our nations and to take what is — action is necessary to defend our homeland.”
Korean leaders have denounced the joint military activity, which sometimes also involves Japan, as rehearsals for an invasion, but the US and the South insist that they are defensive in nature.