Vice President Mike Pence will head the US delegation to the Winter Olympics in South Korea next month, a White House official told AFP Wednesday.
The Pyeongchang “peace” games have taken on extra political meaning with the participation of North Korean athletes amid tensions on the peninsula.
On the trip the US vice president will also “review ICBM defense systems” in Alaska, and visit allies in Japan.
Pence “is attending to reinforce the strong US presence on the Korean Peninsula and send a clear signal to the North Korean regime,” a White House official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The full US delegation has yet to be announced.
North and South Korea held their first official dialogue in more than two years on Tuesday.
In a modest diplomatic breakthrough Pyongyang — which boycotted the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul — plans to send a large delegation to the February 9-25 Games.
North Korea and the Trump administration are in a standoff over Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un indicated that he wants to marry those two deadly technologies, producing a nuclear warhead capable of reaching almost anywhere in the continental United States.
This will be Pence’s second trip to South Korea and Japan since becoming vice president one year ago.