Vice President Mike Pence told reporters on his flight back from the Winter Olympics in South Korea that a “maximum pressure campaign,” including sanctions, would continue, but diplomacy is still on the table in dealings with North Korea.
“The point is, no pressure comes off until they are actually doing something that the alliance believes represents a meaningful step toward denuclearization,” Pence said on the flight, according to Bloomberg, citing a Washington Post report.
“So the maximum pressure campaign is going to continue and intensify,” Pence said. “But if you want to talk, we’ll talk.”
The Post reported that Pence and South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in agreed, in theory, to meet with North Korean officials during their meeting on the sidelines of the Olympics.
In its reporting of the Post’s article, Bloomberg said this marks a “shift” in U.S. policy.
“The U.S. is ready to engage in talks about North Korea’s nuclear program even as it maintains pressure on Kim Jong Un’s regime, Vice President Mike Pence said, signaling a shift in American policy,” Bloomberg reported.
The comments represent a departure from the Trump administration’s previous stance that North Korea must first agree to discuss giving up its nuclear weapons before talks began. Pence endorsed a change of tactics after Moon assured him the North Koreans wouldn’t get economic or diplomatic benefits just for talking — they must take concrete steps toward denuclearization.
Bloomberg reported that South Korea’s Unification Ministry said on Monday that South Korea “will faithfully implement the international sanctions on North Korea, while also adhering to the principle of resolution through peaceful means.”
As Breitbart News reported, the Trump administration said in November that diplomacy was not dead regarding addressing the communist regime in the north and its nuclear weapons ambitions.
Breitbart News reported:
A senior State Department official told Reuters … that the United States is “quietly pursuing direct diplomacy with North Korea,” despite President Trump’s dismissal of such talks as a “waste of time.”
According to this official, U.S. negotiator Joseph Yun has been using the “New York channel” (i.e. the United Nations) to stay in touch with North Korean diplomats while President Trump and dictator Kim Jong-un lob insults at each other. Supposedly, when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said diplomacy would continue “until the first bomb drops,” he was not making a grim jest – he was literally describing State Department policy.
Meanwhile, “North Korea has made clear that it does not intend to negotiate away its nuclear and missile programs in return for relief from international sanctions,” according to Reuters.