President Donald Trump is open to talks between the US and North Korea, while remaining determined to apply “maximum pressure” over Pyongyang’s nuclear programme, the White House said today. During a phone call with his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-In, Trump expressed his openness to holding talks with Pyongyang “at the appropriate time, under the right circumstances.”
“The two leaders underscored the importance of continuing the maximum pressure campaign against North Korea,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders added in a statement that confirmed a South Korea account of the phone call.
Moon briefed Trump on his government’s talks with a delegation from the North on Tuesday, which resulted in Pyongyang agreeing to send a delegation to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang next month, both sides said.
Trump also told Moon that Vice President Mike Pence would lead the US delegation to the Olympic Games, the White House said.
Pence “is attending to reinforce the strong US presence on the Korean peninsula and send a clear signal to the North Korean regime,” a White House official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
On the trip, the US vice president will also “review ICBM defense systems” in Alaska, and visit allies in Japan, the official said.
North and South Korea held their first official dialogue in more than two years on Tuesday.
In a modest diplomatic breakthrough, Pyongyang –which boycotted the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul — plans to send a large delegation to the February 9-25 Games.
North Korea and the Trump administration are in a standoff over Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
This will be Pence’s second trip to South Korea and Japan since becoming vice president one year ago. (