Vice President Mike Pence has relayed to South Korean President Moon Jae-in the U.S.’ approval of continued talks with the North Koreans, but stressed that the North would get no sanctions relief simply for continuing a dialogue. Pence lead the U.S. delegation to the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, over the weekend
Pence added that the international community would only scale back sanctions leveled against North Korea if it takes concrete steps towards denuclearization, but said the U.S. would be open to continued negotiations.
“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. “So the maximum pressure campaign is going to continue and intensify. But if you want to talk, we’ll talk.”
North Korean Leader Kim Jon-Un has made overtures to the South in recent weeks, including sending a delegation of athletes to the Games. North and south Korean athletes marched in the opening ceremony of the Games under a unified Korean flag. Kim’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, led the North Korean delegation and during a face-to-face meeting with Moon, the highest-level diplomatic encounter in more than ten years for the two nations, extended an invitation for Moon to visit North Korea.
Moon responding by saying that the meeting should be accomplished by setting the “right conditions,” and added that talks between North Korea and the United States were also necessary, encouraging the North to be more open to dialogue with the U.S.