Pence: US Open to Talks with N. Korea, Sanctions to Continue

Korea Presidential Blue House South Koran President Moon Jae-in right waves as North Korea's nominal head of state Kim Yong Nam left Kim Yo Jong North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's sister and Hyon Song Wol

Presidential Blue House via AP

US Vice President Mike Pence says Washington is open to talks with North Korea.

In an interview with the Washington Post, Pence reportedly hinted at the possibility of the U.S. holding talks with the North, by stating if the North wants to talk, the USA will talk.

"We will all remain united in our shared commitment that the Kim regime in North Korea must permanently abandon their nuclear weapons program to see it dismantled, to accept denuclearization before there is any progress whatsoever on the pressure on the sanctions", he said.

In recent weeks, the Trump administration has put renewed focus on the poor human rights record of North Korea's authoritarian government. If the dialogue were to happen, it would have to be aimed at denuclearization, she said.

While the overwhelming US concern with North Korea centers on the rising threat from its nuclear weapons, the United States has been very outspoken against human rights violations in the reclusive Asian nation.

US Vice President Mike Pence has said that America is ready to hold talks with diplomats and officials from Pyongyang whenever they are ready to do so.

On the sidelines of his trip to South Korea, where the Winter Olympics are being held, Pence held multiple conversations with South Korean President Moon Jae-In and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

He said the United States and its allies would impose "steep and escalating costs" on Pyongyang until it takes "clear steps toward denuclearisation".

Speaking to the Washington Post on his way home from theWinter Olympics in South Korea, Pence - who avoided any direct contact with North Korean officials at the Games - said Washington would keep up its "maximum pressure campaign" against Pyongyang but would be open to possible talks at the same time.

The president also highlighted the case of Warmbier, a USA college student imprisoned for 15 years for stealing a propaganda poster who died days after his release last June.

North Korea rejects all allegations of rights abuses and has responded with strong denunciations, especially of the U.S. In Monday's statement, the mission referred to "non-existent" rights issues in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea - the country's official name - and called the United States "the principal violator of human rights ever seen in the human history".

"Keep in mind, this weekend isn't the first time main stream media has fallen for the DPRK's [Democratic People's Republic of Korea's] charade-[NBC anchor] Lester Holt fell for it when he conducted a cheery interview on a ski slope in North Korea, providing a platform for North Korean propaganda" said the USA official, referring to a recent NBC report that came under fire for painting an inaccurate picture of North Korea, which remains one of the foremost global abusers of human rights.

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