U.S. President Donald Trump is open to talks between the United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), while remaining determined to apply “maximum pressure” over Pyongyang’s nuclear program, the White House said Wednesday.
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.
According to South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency, the U.S. president also dismissed a recent report that he may be considering military action against the DPRK and asked Moon to let DPRK understand that there will be no military action of any kind while the two countries continue to hold talks, according to Moon’s chief press secretary, Yoon Young-chan.
Moon briefed Trump on his government’s talks with a delegation from the DPRK on Tuesday, which resulted in Pyongyang agreeing to send a delegation to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang next month, both sides said.
China on Wednesday hailed the positive outcome of talks between DPRK and the Republic of Korea.
“It is encouraging that the two sides see each other’s goodwill and shake hands at a time when the situation on the Korean Peninsula is quite tense,” spokesperson Lu Kang said at a daily press briefing.
Trump also told Moon that Vice President Mike Pence would lead the U.S. delegation to the Olympic Games, the White House said.
Pence “is attending to reinforce the strong U.S. 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 U.S. vice president will also “review ICBM defense systems” in Alaska, and visit allies in Japan, the official said.
DPRK 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.
DPRK 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.
Story compiled information with AFP, Yonhap and CGTN.