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Pence (front row in red, white and blue jacket) with other world leaders including Moon (front row in white jacket) on Feb. 9 in PyeongChang, South Korea. Photo: Carl Court/Getty Images

Vice President Mike Pence, who's in South Korea for the Olympics, has promised a new round of tough sanctions on North Korea. But while the U.S. is downplaying the Olympics as a possible starting point for a new round of negotiations with North Korea, South Korea is openly stating its plan to use the Olympics to re-start talks, according to the Washington Post.

Why it matters: Beijing wants to put stress on the U.S.-South Korea alliance and restart talks with North Korea that will reduce the near-term risks of conflict on the peninsula.

What's happening: WashPost's Josh Rogin, traveling with Pence who's in South Korea as the senior U.S. representative at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics, reports that the U.S. and South Korea now openly disagree on North Korea.

  • South Korean President Moon Jae-in says he wants to use the meetings with North Korea officials during the Olympics as a starting point for negotiations, WashPost reports.

China wants that as well. Politburo Standing Committee member Han Zheng is attending the opening ceremony as the senior PRC representative, and Xinhua's report on Han's meeting with Moon notes that:

"On the Korean Peninsula issue, Han said the situation on the peninsula is undergoing positive changes recently as South Korea and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) have taken the opportunity of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics to restart dialogue and commence cooperation, adding that the relationship between the two sides has been improved and seen progress."

Meanwhile, Moon told Han that South Korea:

"is willing to maintain communication and coordination with China to push forward the inter-Korean dialogue facilitated by the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, to settle the peninsula issue through peaceful means and to achieve sustainable peace and prosperity in the region," per Xinhua.

Back in D.C.: China's top diplomat Yang Jiechi met with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson Thursday and said that "the international community should support the improvement in relations between North and South Korea," Reuters reports.

Go deeper

3 hours ago - Health

FDA authorizes mix-and-match for COVID booster shots

Photo: Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) on Wednesday gave its approval for Americans to get booster shots that are different from the COVID vaccine they initially received.

Why it matters: The recommendation from the FDA, which also authorized booster shots for people who received Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines on Wednesday, paves the way for an expansion of booster shots.

GOP congressman forfeits committee seats after indictment

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) on Wednesday stepped down from his committee assignments after being indicted for lying to federal investigators amid a probe into illegal campaign donations.

What they're saying: In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Fortenberry said he is "grateful for the outpouring of support from my friends and colleagues as we work against the injustice confronting me."

Rahm Emanuel questioned on murder of Laquan McDonald in confirmation hearing

Rahm Emanuel during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing on Oct. 20. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel spoke about the murder of Laquan McDonald during his Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday to become the U.S. ambassador to Japan, saying that "there's not a day or a week that has gone by in the last seven years I haven't thought about this."

Catch up quick: McDonald was a Black teenager who was fatally shot 16 times by Chicago police during Emanuel's tenure as the city's mayor. The 2014 shooting triggered massive protests, both because of its nature and the fact that the officers' body-cam footage was concealed for years.

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