Pence says allies firm in isolating Pyongyang after Olympics



US Vice President Mike Pence said the United States, S. Korea and Japan were in complete agreement on isolating Pyongyang over its nuclear weapons program, even as inter-Korea detente continued at the Winter Olympics.

"There is no daylight between the United States, the Republic of Korea and Japan on the need to continue to isolate North Korea (the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, DPRK) economically and diplomatically until they abandon their nuclear and ballistic missile program," Pence told reporters on Saturday after leaving the Games in PyeongChang.

A senior official accompanying Pence said S. Korea and Japan "are solidly with our alliance and the need to continue and intensify economic sanctions."

Last month, a White House official told reporters Pence would attend the Winter Olympics opening to cheer American athletes and to counter any DPRK effort to "hijack" the games with a propaganda campaign.

The South and the North marched together under a unified flag during the Games opening ceremony on Friday night.

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach called it "a very emotional moment" that gave him "goosebumps."

But the US has been wary about Pyongyang's presence in PyeongChang.

The official aboard Pence's aircraft told reporters that the vice president and S. Korean President Moon Jae-in discussed intensifying sanctions while watching the speed skating together on Saturday night.

They were reported not to have discussed the DPRK's invitation to Moon for a summit in Pyongyang, which would set the stage for the first meeting of Korean leaders in 10 years.

Pence did say, however, that Moon shared with him details of his meeting with DPRK's leaders, without elaborating.

Before the opening ceremony, both Pyongyang and Washington took a hard line on each other, saying they were not seeking bilateral talks on the sidelines of the Games, though both said they would see what happened.

At the opening, Pence and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sat next to President Moon Jae-in in the VIP seating section, while high-ranking DPRK delegates, Kim Jong Un's younger sister Kim Yo Jong and the ceremonial leader Kim Yong Nam, were sitting right behind them.

While Moon and Kim exchanged a historic handshake, there was no interaction between Pence and the DPRK