Pence Had Planned To Meet With North Korea In Secret At The Olympics

Ryan Pickrell | China/Asia Pacific Reporter
  • North Korea reportedly backed out of a secret meeting with Vice President Mike Pence 
  • “North Korea dangled a meeting in hopes of the Vice President softening his message,” according to Pence’s staff
  • Pence hammered the North Koreans for their frequent provocations and human rights atrocities, angering Pyongyang

North Korea reportedly offered to meet with Vice President Mike Pence at the Winter Olympics in South Korea but backed out at the last minute, apparently angry at his criticisms of the regime.

“We’ll see what happens,” Pence replied to questions about a possible meeting with North Korea at the Games before the start of his trip, leading to much unsubstantiated speculation. At that point, though, planning was already underway for a meeting, according to The Washington Post.

North Korea sent a high-level delegation to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, that included Kim Jong Un’s younger sister Kim Yo Jong and the North’s ceremonial leader Kim Yong Nam. Pence ignored the North Korean delegation at the opening ceremony, however, he was supposedly expected to meet with the rogue regime the next day at the South Korea’s Blue House, the presidential office. The secret meeting never happened though.

Apparently Pyongyang proposed the meeting in hopes that the Trump administration would “soften its message,” according to Pence’s Chief of Staff Nick Ayers.

“North Korea dangled a meeting in hopes of the Vice President softening his message, which would have ceded the world stage for their propaganda during the Olympics. North Korea would have strongly preferred the vice president not use the world stage to call attention to those absolute facts or to display our strong alliance with those committed to the maximum pressure campaign,” Ayers explained.

“But, as we’ve said from day one about the trip: this administration will stand in the way of Kim’s desire to whitewash their murderous regime with nice photo ops at the Olympics,” he added.

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On his tour of Asia, Pence repeatedly highlighted the human rights atrocities of North Korea. The vice president invited slain American college student Otto Warmbier’s father to join him in South Korea and met with several brave North Korean defectors on his trip. He also visited the Cheonan Memorial, which honors the 46 South Korean service members who died when the rogue North Korean regime torpedoed the ship in 2010.

Pence also announced tough new sanctions on North Korea for its hostile provocations and aggressive behavior.

The two sides were scheduled to meet the Saturday after the opening ceremony, but North Korea changed its mind at the last minute, presumably because North Korea was displeased with Pence’s efforts to “tarnish” its international image, as it stressed in a brutal state media report.

“Pence must know that his frantic acts of abusing the sacred Olympics for confrontational ruckus are as foolish and stupid an act as sweeping the sea with a broom,” the North’s Korea Central News Agency reported, adding that Pence should “quietly disappear.”

As the vice president left Asia, he revealed that the U.S. is ready to meet with North Korea, but he also made clear that the maximum pressure campaign will continue until the U.S. sees changes in North Korea’s behavior.

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