President Moon Jae-in on Thursday met separately with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Han Zheng, a member of the Chinese politburo, at Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul. Both lead their country's delegation to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
On Friday, Moon is to meet North Korea's titular head of state Kim Yong-nam, who leads a North Korean delegation that also includes leader Kim Jong-un's sister Yo-jong. Moon and Pence were keen to play down their differences over North Korea's attendance.
Moon said it was the U.S.' firm stance that contributed to North Korea's participation in the Olympics and inter-Korean talks. He called them an "Olympic Games of peace," which he hoped would become a "venue that leads to dialogue for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."
"Our resolve to stand with you is unshakable," Pence said, adding the U.S. "will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder in our effort to bring maximum pressure to bear on North Korea until that time comes when they finally and permanently and irreversibly abandon their nuclear missile ambition."
In his meeting with Han, Moon expressed hope that China will play a bigger role in helping inter-Korean talks, which resumed with the Pyeongchang Olympics, lead to a Pyongyang-Washington dialogue.
Han agreed that Washington and Pyongyang hold the key to the situation on the Korean Peninsula, but added Seoul and Beijing should try to help U.S. and North Korean officials meet face-to-face.
The North Korean delegation is expected to fly into Incheon International Airport on Kim Jong-un's official aircraft on Friday. Moon will have lunch with the North Korean officials at Cheong Wa Dae on Saturday.
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