Vice President Mike Pence said this weekend that the United States may be willing to sit down with North Korea for diplomatic negotiations after South Korean officials first begin talks with their neighbors to the north.
Pence told the Washington Post that he came to a preliminary understanding with South Korean President Moon Jae-in about a path forward with diplomatic negotiations. Pence told the Post that the U.S. would continue to impose sanctions on North Korea while holding talks with the country, and would not ease sanctions until North Korea took steps toward denuclearization.
“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.”
Though Pence opened the door to talks, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Monday morning that it’s too soon to tell whether talks will take place.
“We’ve said for some time it’s really up to the North Koreans to decide when they’re ready to engage with us in a sincere way, a meaningful way,” Tillerson told reporters, according to Reuters.
Pence’s openness to negotiations stands in contrast to Trump’s bombastic rhetoric about North Korea. Trump has bragged about the United States’ nuclear capabilities and publicly questioned whether diplomatic talks with North Korea would be fruitful.