Vice President Mike Pence will deride any notion of normalizing North Korea’s relationships with the outside world while he leads the US delegation at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, this week.
During the games, Pence will “make clear that the maximum pressure of the Kim regime will only intensify,” a White House official told reporters, adding that the vice president “will not allow the North Korean regime to highjack messaging of Olympics with propaganda.”
“You’ll see (Pence) highlight reality of what’s happening in North Korea, despite propaganda tactics,” the official said.
Axios reported that an aide made similar remarks earlier this week.
North and South Korea agreed to send a North Korean delegation to the Olympics. Both countries’ athletes will march under a unified flag during the opening ceremony on Friday, athletes from the two countries will train together before the Olympics begin, and a joint North and South Korean women’s ice hockey team will compete during the games.
But amid the renewed relations between both Koreas during the games, North Korea still plans to send a message to Americans ahead of the ceremonies.
North Korea is planning to show off dozens of long-range missiles at a February 8 parade, the day before the Winter Olympics is set to begin in South Korea, two diplomatic sources with deep knowledge of North Korea’s intentions told CNN last week.
The display of “hundreds” of missiles and rockets would be an attempt “to scare the hell out of the Americans,” one of the sources said.
President Donald Trump has taken some credit for the renewed relations between North and South Korea.
“If I weren’t involved, they wouldn’t be talking about Olympics right now. They’d be doing no talking or it would be much more serious,” Trump said last month.
But in a more recent move this past Friday, Trump hosted North Korean defectors in the Oval Office, potentially meant to anger North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un.
“These are just great people that have suffered incredibly,” Trump told the press during the meeting.
This story has been updated.
CNN’s Elise Labott, Will Ripley, Joshua Berlinger and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.