Opinion Opinions | Pence: The United States is ready to talk with North Korea

15:07  12 february  2018
15:07  12 february  2018 Source:   msn.com

US won't rule out Olympics talks with North Korea

  US won't rule out Olympics talks with North Korea Vice President Mike Pence or other US officials might meet with North Koreans at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang next week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Monday. Washington has previously said it won't seek to initiate contact with North Koreans attending the South Korean games, but it does want talks with Kim Jong-Un in an effort to get him to abandon his nuclear program.Asked during a visit to Peru whether Pence might accept an invitation to meet the North Korea delegation, Tillerson – who is pushing for a diplomatic solution to the crisis – would not rule it out.

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Mike Pence wearing a suit and tie standing in front of a flag: Vice President Mike Pence. © Woohae Cho/Getty Images Vice President Mike Pence.

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Despite the mutual chilliness between U.S. and North Korean officials in South Korea last week, behind the scenes real progress was made toward a new diplomatic opening that could result in direct talks without preconditions between Washington and Pyongyang. This window of opportunity was born out of a new understanding reached between the White House and the president of South Korea.

North Korea: Cracks in U.S.-Japan-South Korea alliance start to show

  North Korea: Cracks in U.S.-Japan-South Korea alliance start to show Vice President Mike Pence's Olympic tour, meant to blunt North Korean propaganda, is taking a back seat to meetings between the North and South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Pence trip began in Japan, stopped in Seoul, and culminated with his visit to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics opening ceremony. Will North Koreans try to defect at the Olympics?Moon is expected to meet with Kim Jong Un's sister, Kim Yo Jong on Saturday at the Blue House.

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Vice President Mike Pence . (Woohae Cho/Getty Images). Josh Rogin is a columnist for the Global Opinions section of The Washington Post. He writes about foreign policy and national security.

Vice President Pence, in an interview aboard Air Force Two on the way home from the Winter Olympics in ­PyeongChang, told me that in his two substantive conversations with South Korean President Moon Jae-in during his trip, the United States and South Korea agreed on terms for further engagement with North Korea — first by the South Koreans and potentially with the United States soon thereafter.

The frame for the still-nascent diplomatic path forward is this: The United States and its allies will not stop imposing steep and escalating costs on the Kim Jong Un regime until it takes clear steps toward denuclearization. But the Trump administration is now willing to sit down and talk with the regime while that pressure campaign is ongoing.

Pence says 'no daylight' between allies on North Korea

  Pence says 'no daylight' between allies on North Korea Vice President Mike Pence told reporters aboard Air Force One on Saturday that there is "no daylight" between the United States, South Korea and Japan in their stances on North Korea after a trip to the 2018 Winter Olympics that saw him and South Korean President Moon Jae-in take different positions on the presence of a North Korean delegation. Load Error "There is no daylight between the United States, the Republic of Korea, and Japan on the need to continue to isolate North Korea economically and diplomatically until they abandon their nuclear ballistic missile program," Pence said, adding that he was "encouraged" by his talks with the

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Pence called it “maximum pressure and engagement at the same time.” That’s an important change from the previous U.S. position, which was to build maximum pressure until Pyongyang made real concessions and only then to engage directly with the regime.

“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.”

Pence and Moon worked this out during their bilateral meeting Thursday at the Blue House and their joint viewing of speedskating heats in PyeongChang on Saturday evening. Pence conferred with President Trump every day he was in Asia. Before these meetings, the Trump and Moon administrations were not aligned on whether Seoul’s new engagement with Pyongyang should continue after the Olympics end.

Pence raises prospect of U.S. talks with North Korea: Washington Post

  Pence raises prospect of U.S. talks with North Korea: Washington Post The United States and South Korea have agreed on terms for further diplomatic engagement with North Korea, first with Seoul and then possibly leading to direct talks with Washington without pre-conditions, Vice President Mike Pence said in a newspaper interview published on Sunday. Load Error Speaking to the Washington Post aboard Air Force Two on his way home from the Winter Olympics in South Korea, Pence – who avoided any direct contact with North Korean officials attending the Games – said Washington would keep up its “maximum pressure campaign” against Pyongyang but would be open to possible talks at the same time.

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That dissonance showed just before their first meeting, when Moon said he wanted Olympic engagement to lead to real negotiations while Pence talked only about the pressure track. But inside the meeting, there was a breakthrough. Pence told Moon the international community must not repeat the mistakes of the past by giving North Korea concessions in exchange for talking. Pence asked Moon for his idea of how this engagement could be different.

Moon assured Pence he would tell the North Koreans clearly that they would not get economic or diplomatic benefits for just talking — only for taking concrete steps toward denuclearization. Based on that assurance, Pence felt confident he could endorse post-Olympic engagement with Pyongyang.

“I think it is different from the last 20 years,” Pence said. I asked him what exact steps Pyongyang would have to take to get real sanctions relief. “I don’t know,” he said. “That’s why you have to have talks.”

The initial move the United States wants is for North Korea to put denuclearization on the table and take steps toward it, though that is not a condition for preliminary talks. That may be a bridge too far for the Kim regime, which is adamant that the international community accept its nuclear status. Pyongyang is also sure to want concessions from Washington, such as a delay in U.S.-South Korean military exercises, a non-starter for the alliance.

Mattis: North Korea isn't driving a wedge between US and South Korea

  Mattis: North Korea isn't driving a wedge between US and South Korea Defense Secretary James Mattis on Sunday quashed concerns that a recent rapprochement between North and South Korea was driving a wedge between the U.S. and its ally Seoul. "I know that people are watching for a wedge between South Korea, Republic of Korea, in other words, and the United States. There's no wedge there," Mattis told reporters aboard a plane flying into Rome.

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There are other spoilers that could torpedo the new opening. In Tokyo, Pence announced new sanctions on North Korea that he promised would be the toughest ever, due to be unveiled soon. In response, the Kim regime may resume testing its nuclear and missile programs, as it has done after past Olympic detentes. That would halt the diplomatic progress in its tracks.

Moon is working hard to prevent that from happening. He is entertaining a North Korean offer to visit Pyongyang. He is also urging the North Koreans to sit down with the United States at the earliest opportunity.

“Moon told me at the skating rink that he told [the North Koreans], ‘You’ve got to talk to the Americans,’ ” Pence said.

The idea of “talks about talks” is not new. In fact, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has raised the idea multiple times. Trump himself has said he sees nothing wrong with talking with the North Koreans per se. Moving from that to substantive negotiations would still be extremely difficult. But to make any real progress, talking is the first necessary step.

The White House’s endorsement of the concept of initial talks without preconditions is hugely significant. It provides a real fix to the break between Washington and Seoul. It also increases the chances the United States and North Korea will soon begin a process that represents the best hope of preventing a devastating international conflict.

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Washington Is Willing to Talk With North Korea, the South’s President Says .
The United States “has expressed its willingness to start dialogue with the North,” said a spokesman for President Moon Jae-in, who met with Vice President Mike Pence last week.SEOUL, South Korea — American officials told South Korea’s president they were willing to hold direct negotiations with North Korea, a spokesman for President Moon Jae-in said on Tuesday, indicating a shift in the Trump administration’s policy.

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