Vice President Mike Pence on Monday did not rule out the possibility of meeting with North Korean officials at the Olympics during his five-day trip to Asia this week.
Speaking to reporters at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska, standing next to an F-22 fighter jet, Pence said that President Donald Trump “has said he always believes in talking, but I have not requested any meeting. But we’ll see what happens.”
Pence said that if he did meet with North Korean officials, he would take a hard stance against them to get them to end their nuclear ambitions.
“But my message, whatever the setting, whoever is present, will be the same,” Pence said. “And that is that North Korea must once and for all abandon its nuclear weapons program and ballistic missile ambitions, and it must accede to the wishes not only of nations across the region and the United States, but nations across the world, to really abandon those ambitions and enter the family of nations. North Korea can have a better future than the militaristic path, the path of provocation and confrontation that it’s on. Better for its own people, better for the region, and better for peace.”
The father of the late Otto Warmbier, the U.S. student who died only a few days after being released to the U.S. from North Korea, will be attending the Olympic opening ceremony with Pence, as the Vice President’s guest.
“The Vice President will be there with Mr. Warmbier at the opening ceremony … to remind the world of the atrocities that happen in North Korea,” a White House official said.
Kim Yong Nam, the head of the North Korea’s parliament, will be attending the Olympic Games program, making him one of the highest-level officials from the North to visit the South.
“The Vice President most certainly is not seeking a meeting with the North Koreans,” a White House official also said.