By Alex Jensen
SEOUL (AA) - The United States will continue its campaign of putting “maximum pressure” on North Korea, said the White House press secretary Saturday.
Accompanied by an American delegation at the Winter Olympics in South Korea, Sarah Sanders, the press secretary, was speaking to reporters.
Her comments came just hours after U.S. President Donald Trump unveiled his country’s “heaviest ever” sanctions against North Korea.
The latest measures target dozens of shipping firms and vessels in an effort to ensure Pyongyang cannot evade previous punitive steps aimed at curbing the authoritarian regime’s rogue development of nuclear weapons.
“I can tell you the president won't make the mistakes the past administration has [made], or be soft or weak,” Sanders insisted in comments carried by local news agency Yonhap.
Trump’s daughter Ivanka is leading the American delegation, which will stay in the South for the PyeongChang 2018 closing ceremony, to be held on Sunday.
Speculation has been building over whether she might hold any kind of dialogue with visiting North Korean officials including senior ruling party member Kim Yong-chol -- a controversial figure deemed responsible for two attacks in 2010 that cost 50 South Korean lives.
"As of right now, there's nothing planned," Sanders replied when asked of a possible encounter between Ivanka and the North Koreans.
Previously, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence reportedly agreed to talk with the North at the opening ceremony of the Winter Games, but his office later claimed Pyongyang pulled out because of Pence’s emphasis on the reclusive state’s human rights record and nuclear ambitions.