North Korea canceled planned meeting with Mike Pence during Olympics

Isaac Cain
February 22, 2018

Pyongyang sent its nominal head of state, Kim Yong Nam, the highest-level visitor to the South from the North in recent memory.

President Donald Trump had signed off on the decision to meet, with the caveat that the United States wouldn't back off its stated demand that Pyongyang abandon its nuclear weapons.

The encounter on 10 February would have been the first between the Trump administration and Pyongyang after a bitter stand-off over their nuclear weapons programme. Mr. Trump also dismissed Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson's suggestions of dialogue with the North as premature or a waste of time.

North Korea has a long history of cancelling meetings and walking away from negotiations as a means to increase its leverage. "We're using large sticks".

The White House and the vice president's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But South Korean officials did not deny that they had encouraged both sides to talk.

When asked if North Korea would be on the agenda for any potential talks during Ivanka Trump's visit, Noh said, according to Yonhap: "Issues of mutual interest could naturally be on the table during the process of the visit".

Global alarm at the rapid advance of nuclear-armed North Korea's weapons technology rose further past year when the regime tested its Hwasong-15 ballistic missile - theoretically capable of hitting the mainland United States - in a challenge to Washington, which has threatened to "utterly destroy" the regime in the event of an attack.

She added Vice President Mike Pence "was ready to take this opportunity to drive home the necessity of North Korea abandoning its illicit ballistic missile and nuclear programs".

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But after Pence condemned human rights violations in North Korea and announced the toughest economic sanctions yet, the plan collapsed.

Some observers said the North's charm offensive had won the day, while American officials appeared obstinate and overshadowed.

Im reiterated the coordinated stance between Seoul and Washington to postpone the exercises until after the PyeongChang Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games end.

Pence chose to take a more hardline stance against the North Korean regime, even as Moon invited Kim's sister, Kim Yo Jong, to his palace for a luncheon.

The latest and strictest set of sanctions were passed a year ago after North Korea test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile that showed the country could theoretically strike anywhere in the U.S. The sanctions included prohibiting the trade of oil to North Korea.

McShane said the rogue regime's mellifluous offerings near the border "could be just because there's a good number of North Korean citizens here".

Four Chinese characters, reading "Min Ning De You 078" - meaning "Fujian Province, Ningde City, oil tanker 078" in English - were on the small vessel, it said.

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