Pence raises prospect of talks with N Korea
SEOUL, Feb 12 : Comments by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence suggest the United States may be looking more favourably at diplomatic engagement with North Korea as South Korea considers a rare summit with its neighbour and long-time foe.
Pence said in a newspaper interview the United States and South Korea had agreed on terms for further diplomatic engagement with North Korea, first with Seoul and then possibly leading to direct talks with Washington.
The prospect of talks comes after months of tension between Pyongyang, Seoul and Washington over North Korea's nuclear and missile programs, with U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un trading insults and threats of destruction amid tightening sanctions from the United Nations.
Speaking to the Washington Post aboard Air Force Two on his way home from the Games, Pence said Washington would keep up its "maximum pressure campaign" against Pyongyang but would be open to possible talks at the same time.
"The point is, no pressure comes off until they are actually doing something that the alliance believes represents a meaningful step toward denuclearization," Pence was quoted on Sunday as saying. "So the maximum pressure campaign is going to continue and intensify. But if you want to talk, we'll talk."
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Monday it was too early to judge whether latest developments represented the start of a diplomatic process.
"We've said for some time it's really up to the North Koreans to decide when they're ready to engage with us in a sincere way, a meaningful way," Tillerson told reporters in Egypt. "They know what has to be on the table for conversations." —REUTERS