High-level North Korean officials attending this month’s Winter Olympic Games in South Korea say they are not willing to meet with U.S. envoys during the games despite Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceSpace exploration is good for American jobs Trump approves Indiana Medicaid work requirements Democrat Manchin: Pence attacks prove ‘they don’t want bipartisanship’ in Trump admin MORE‘s statements indicating that U.S. officials would be ready to talk.
South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported Thursday that North Korean officials said they “don’t have a willingness” to meet with the U.S. delegation, led by Pence, during the Olympics.
“We have never begged for dialogue with the U.S. and [it] will be the same in the future,” a North Korean official representing the country’s foreign minister said.
“We clearly state that we don’t have a willingness to meet with the U.S. side during our visit to South Korea,” according to the report.
Pence appeared to leave the door open to talks between the two nations during the games in comments to reporters at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska on Tuesday.
“President TrumpDonald John TrumpTillerson: Russia already looking to interfere in 2018 midterms Dems pick up deep-red legislative seat in Missouri Speier on Trump’s desire for military parade: ‘We have a Napoleon in the making’ MORE has said he always believes in talking, but I haven’t requested any meetings,” Pence said. “But we’ll see what happens.”
Tensions between the U.S. and North Korea have flared for months over repeated tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles by North Korea, as well as the country’s nuclear weapons program which experts believe will soon be advanced enough to reach the continental United States with a nuclear-powered weapon.
Before his departure for South Korea, Pence told reporters that the Trump administration’s message remained the same: that the North must abandon its nuclear weapons program as a prerequisite to talks over ending sanctions or extending diplomatic relations.
“My message – whatever the setting, whoever is present – will be the same,” Pence said Tuesday. “And that is that North Korea must once and for all abandon its nuclear weapons program and ballistic missile ambitions.”
North Korea was not initially expected to attend the Winter Olympics, but talks with South Korea resulted in the North’s participation in the Games. Athletes from North and South Korea will also march under a unification flag during the opening ceremonies.
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