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Pence Leaves Open Possibility to Meet North Korean Officials

06 February, 2018

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is not ruling out a meeting with North Korean officials during his trip to South Korea to attend the Winter Olympics.

Pence was asked about the possibility of U.S.-North Korea talks before leaving Monday on his six-day Asia trip.

"Let me say President Trump has said he always believes in talking, but I haven't requested any meeting," Pence told reporters. He added, "But we'll see what happens."

His words were very similar to comments that U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made Monday. When asked about possible talks between Pence and North Korean officials, Tillerson said "we'll have to see what happens."

Pence spoke with reporters after visiting U.S. missile defense facilities at the U.S. Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska. The base is used to monitor missile activity by North Korea and could respond to any possible attacks.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects the intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasong-14 in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang July 5, 2017.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects the intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasong-14 in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang July 5, 2017.

The vice president said if he does meet with any North Korean officials, he will tell them their country "once and for all" must give up its nuclear weapons and missile programs.

"We'll be telling the truth about North Korea at every stop," Pence said. "We'll be ensuring that whatever cooperation that's existing between North and South Korea today on Olympic teams does not cloud the reality of a regime that must continue to be isolated by the world community."

Pence is holding talks with officials in Japan before going to Seoul.

In South Korea, Pence will meet with President Moon Jae-in. He will also visit a memorial to 46 South Korean sailors killed in a 2010 underwater missile attack blamed on the North. He will then lead the official U.S. government delegation attending the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang. The Games begin February 9.

Pence wrote about his upcoming trip to the Olympics on Twitter. One goal, he said, will be to repeat a U.S. promise "to continue to isolate North Korea and ensure North Korea doesn't use the Olympics to paper over the truth about their regime, which oppresses its own people and threatens other nations."

Fred Warmbier, the father of American student Otto Warmbier, will be attending the opening ceremony as Pence's special guest. Otto was jailed in North Korea for 17 months and died last year shortly after being released and returning to the United States in a coma.

I'm Bryan Lynn.

Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English, based on reports from VOA News, the Associated Press and Reuters. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments section, and visit 51VOA.COM.


Words in This Story

facility n. something (such as a building or large piece of equipment) built for a specific purpose

monitor v. watch, listen to or check something for a specific purpose over time

ensure v. make sure something is done of happens

regime n. a system of government or other control, especially one people do not approve of

isolate v. to set apart or separate from others

delegation n. group of people chosen to represent a much larger group of individuals, such as an organization, nation, etc.

oppress v. to treat a group of people in an unfair way, often by limiting their freedom

coma n. a condition in which a sick or injured person cannot wake up for a long time