The Latest: Pence says he learned of W. House staff scandal

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, center right, arrives with his wife Karen as he addresses members of U.S. military services and Japan Self-Defense Force before he departs for South Korea, at U.S. Air Force Yokota base in Fussa, on the outskirts of Tokyo, Japan, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018. (Toru Hanai/Pool Photo via AP)
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence addresses members of U.S. military services and Japan Self-Defense Force before he departs for South Korea, at U.S. Air Force Yokota base in Fussa, on the outskirts of Tokyo, Japan, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018. (Toru Hanai/Pool Photo via AP)

TOKYO — The Latest on Vice President Mike Pence's visit to Asia (all times local):

2:10 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence says he only learned of domestic violence allegations against a top White House official Thursday morning from news reports, but he says he isn't addressing them during his trip to Japan and South Korea.

Pence told reporters: "We'll comment on any issues affecting White House staff when we get back to Washington."

He was speaking at Yokota Air Base in Japan when asked about the allegations against Rob Porter, the White House staff secretary.

Porter resigned Wednesday after two ex-wives offered on-the-record allegations of domestic abuse.

Pence is declining to say whether he believes President Donald Trump is being well-served by his senior staff, amid reports that White House officials were aware of the allegations against Porter for several months.

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12:45 p.m.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is ratcheting up the rhetoric against North Korea's human rights abuses ahead of the Winter Olympic Games in the South.

Pence spoke Thursday to U.S. service members at Yokota Air Base in Japan after touring joint U.S. and Japanese operations centers that monitor and react to crises on the peninsula and the region at large.

Pence says an estimated 100,000 North Korean citizens labor in modern-day gulags, and that those who dare raise their voices in dissent are imprisoned, tortured and even murdered. He adds that children and grandchildren are routinely punished for their family's sins against the state.

Pence is traveling to Seoul later Thursday as he seeks to ramp-up pressure on the North and to push back on its propaganda around the games.

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12:40 p.m.

As he warns the world against falling for North Korea's diplomatic overtures around the Winter Olympics, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence tells American service members to "be vigilant."

Pence says the U.S. is "ready for every eventuality."

The vice president is visiting Yokota Air Base in Japan. He says American military power is unparalleled and adds, "You know and I know that our forces are ready and our nation is resolved."

As he prepares to travel to South Korea to lead the U.S. delegation to the opening ceremonies of the games, Pence says past overtures to the North have only resulted in "willful deception, broken promises, and endless and escalating provocations."

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5:35 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence says the U.S. is preparing to announce the "toughest and most aggressive" economic sanctions against North Korea in the coming days, boosting pressure on the bellicose government during the Winter Olympics.

Says Pence: "The United States of America will soon unveil the toughest and most aggressive round of economic sanctions on North Korea ever - and we will continue to isolate North Korea until it abandons its nuclear and ballistic missile programs once and for all."

Pence, who is set to lead the U.S. delegation to the opening ceremonies Friday, made the announcement in Japan Wednesday, following meetings with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Pence says the purpose of his trip is to ensure the North can't "hijack" the games, and his schedule includes symbolic events designed to highlight North Korea's human rights abuses and nuclear program.

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3:30 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence is reassuring Japan of its support against the North Korean nuclear threat as he meets with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

"The United States is with you in this challenge," Pence says Wednesday as the pair begins an afternoon of talks. "And we will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Japan, the people of South Korea, and our allies and partners across the region until we achieve the global objective of denuclearization of the Korean peninsula."

Pence, who is leading the U.S. delegation to the Winter Olympics in South Korea later this week, says to Abe that aside from which group of athletes they will be cheering for at the games, "I expect we'll be agreeing on just about everything else."

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