Vice President Mike Pence is not ruling out the possibility of talks with North Korea at the Winter Olympics.
Pence will attend the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, and while his mission is to keep the pressure on North Korea, the possibility of a meeting with the North remains on the table.
“I have not requested a meeting, but we’ll see what happens,” he told reporters Monday evening, explaining, “President Trump has always said he believes in talking.”
Pence’s comments followed similar statements from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. “With respect to the vice president’s trip to the Olympics and whether or not there would be an opportunity for any kind of meeting with North Korea, I think we’ll just see,” he said Monday in Peru.
The vice president’s aim is to counter North Korea’s propaganda efforts by reminding the world that North Korea is not a normal nuclear state, but a murderous regime. “We’ll be telling the truth about,” he explained Monday, adding, “We are traveling to the Olympics to make sure that North Korea doesn’t use the powerful symbolism and the backdrop of the Winter Olympics to paper over the truth about the regime, … a regime that oppresses its own people, a regime that threatens nations around the world, a regime that continues its headlong rush to develop nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.”
After two years of silence, the North and South Korea are finally engaging one another in dialogue. The two countries torn apart by a war that has never really ended, will march together under a unified flag and even field a unified team. While some are celebrating detente, others are suspicious of North Korea’s intentions, asserting that North Korea is still the same rogue state.
“We’ll be ensuring that whatever cooperation that’s existing between North and South Korea today on Olympic teams does not cloud the reality of a regime that must continue to be isolated by the world community,” Pence told reporters.
Accompanying Pence to South Korea is Fred Warmbier, father of Otto Warmbier, a young American college student who died last June after a year in captivity in North Korea. Arrested for allegedly attempting to steal a propaganda poster, Warmbier was charged with anti-state crimes and sent to prison, where he was reportedly “brutalized” by the North Korean regime. Warmbier returned home in a coma last year, and he died a week later.
Fred and his wife Cindy Warmbier were guests at President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address, where the president identified them as witnesses of the truly brutal nature of the North Korean regime.
In recent weeks, North Korea has stepped up its criticism of the Trump administration, becoming more bellicose and increasingly belligerent as the start of the Winter Olympics in the South approaches.
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