But the Trump administration is now willing to sit down and talk with the regime while that pressure campaign is ongoing. That's an important change from the previous USA position, which was to build maximum pressure until Pyongyang made real concessions and only then to engage directly with the regime. "And we hope you take the comment as it is".
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.
But controversy over the North's participation - particularly the formation of a unified women's ice hockey team, seen as unfairly denying Seoul's own citizens a chance to compete on the Olympic stage - has hit his approval ratings. South Korean President Moon Jae-in worked hard behind-the-scenes with the International Olympic Committee to convince the North Koreans to send athletes to participate in the competition. But inside the meeting, there was a breakthrough.
Moon has always expressed a desire to reach out to North Korea.
Does Mr. Pence pretend he wasn't in effect giving the middle digit to all involved in spreading the Kim-Moon toro feces?
South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon on Sunday hosted a lunch for the high-ranking delegation from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), including the younger sister of top DPRK leader Kim Jong Un.
Based on that assurance, Pence told Rogin he felt confident he could endorse post-Olympic engagement with the North.
"Honestly, I didn't know I would come here so suddenly". The last member of the Kim family to enter South Korea was Kim Il-sung, North Korea's founder, in 1950, Chinese news agency Xinhua recalled. That may be a bridge too far for the Kim regime, which is adamant that the worldwide community accept its nuclear status.
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When a ferry carrying North Koreans to the Games docked in South Korea last week, the North asked its hosts for the fuel needed to get it home, Seoul's Unification Ministry said.
Pyongyang launched perhaps its most audacious assassination attempt in Myanmar in 1983, when a bomb exploded in a Yangon mausoleum during a visit by South Korean President Chun Doo-hwan.
Among the crowd was a large number of North Korea's all-female "Army of Beauties" cheer squad, known for their tightly choreographed moves and chants.
Many analysts are skeptical about Kim Jong Un's motivations for this sudden outreach, especially as he continues to assert his desire to press ahead with his nuclear weapons program to fend off the "hostile" United States. That would halt the diplomatic progress in its tracks. But he also encouraged North Korea to "actively pursue" dialogue with the United States.
"We should firmly keep in mind that any talks where denuclearization is not a precondition only to buy North Korea more time to complete its nuclear capabilities while they fool us with their peace offensive facade", said Chang Je-won, a party spokesman said, according to Reuters.
The idea of "talks about talks" is not new.
According to Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin, Pence told him the US could engage in dialogue after two substantive conversations with South Korean leader Moon Jae-in last week.
The White House's endorsement of the concept of initial talks without preconditions is hugely significant.
However, there are lingering concerns that Moon could visit North Korea in a manner that would defy the position of both Tokyo and Washington. The U.S. -led global community has been tightening the screws on North Korea with sanctions created to punish its economy and rein in its efforts to expand its nuclear weapons and missile program, which now includes developmental long-range missiles targeting the U.S. mainland.