The United States and South Korea have agreed to terms regarding further diplomatic engagement with North Korea, according to U.S. vice president Mike Pence who said that talks between Seoul and Pyongyang could eventually link Washington with the rogue nation.
Throughout his visit, observers said Pence seemed uncomfortable with the warm welcome the North Korean delegation received from the South.
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, the Washington Post reported, citing an interview with Vice President Mike Pence.
Pence said Friday that the USA would oppose talks between the two Koreas until the North agreed to open negotiations on ending its nuclear program, and he was silent Saturday on the news of the invitation. He made it clear from the start that he came to the Games with a message of "maximum pressure" on Pyongyang. The US insists that North Korea has to commit to the denuclearization and be willing to talk about denuclearization before any direct talk can happen.
Yo-jong (whose leering, smirking mug brings to mind Kill Bill's meteor hammer-wielding villainess Gogo Yubari) is the deputy director of the Propaganda and Agitation Department of North Korea's Workers' Party and a member of the Politburo. Pence has been outspoken during his time at these Games, standing firm on this administration's stance on North Korea. Trump himself has said he sees nothing wrong with talking with the North Koreans per se.
Still, it wouldn't be South Korea if people weren't asking the perennial question when it comes to North Korea changing gears and showering its rival with apparent affection: What's in it for Pyongyang?
The North Korean nuclear issue is also directly linked to South Korea's national security.
The visit of the delegation, which included North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's younger sister Kim Yo Jong, intrigued many in South Korea, but also met scepticism about the North's sincerity and willingness to give up its pursuit of nuclear weapons.
Pence raises prospect of talks with North Korea amid 'intensified' pressure
If an inter-Korean summit is held, it will mark the third of its kind and first under the Kim Jong-un regime. US Vice President Mike Pence said Washington is open to entering into direct negotiations wth Pyongyang.
Speaking to reporters later, Pence reiterated that there was "no daylight" between the US, South Korea and Japan in pushing to isolate North Korea until Kim abandons his nuclear program.
In Washington, China's top diplomat Yang Jiechi said that China hopes the thaw in inter-Korean ties over the Olympics can be translated over into regular talks between North Korea and the US during his meeting with the US President Donald Trump on Friday, according to China's Foreign Ministry.
The representatives of the two countries agreed before the Olympic Games that their athletes would attend the opening ceremony under one flag and they formed a joint women's ice hockey team.
Pence was at pains to insist that Washington and Seoul were on the same page as he returned to Washington from leading the United States delegation to the Olympics. He also encouraged the North to be more proactive in seeking dialogue with the U.S., according to Cheong Wa Dae.
The North's invitation, Manning said, apparently puts Seoul in a hard position, where it needs to prove its efforts will bear fruit.
Moon has expressed his intention to use the Winter Olympics as a chance to make diplomatic inroads with the North and restore normalized communications, following months of high tensions on the Peninsula.