North Korean officials cancel meeting with Pence

State Department: Vice President was ready to meet North Korean representatives at Olympics but North Korea cancelled at the last minute.

Ben Ariel,

Mike Pence
Mike Pence

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence was ready to meet with representatives from North Korea during his visit to the Olympic Games in South Korea earlier this month, but North Korea cancelled at the last minute, the State Department said Tuesday, according to The Associated Press.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Pence "was ready to take this opportunity" and would have used the meeting to emphasize U.S. concerns about the North's nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

She added the U.S. regrets North Korea's "failure to seize this opportunity."

Pence attended the Winter Olympics in South Korea two weeks ago, where he avoided contact with a North Korean delegation that held talks with the South Korean leadership and which included North Korea leader Kim Jong Un's sister, Kim Yo Jong.

The vice president later said he did not greet the delegation given that North Korea was "the most tyrannical and oppressive regime on the planet."

He also said that the U.S. is open to talks with North Korea, but only to convey its stance that it must give up its nuclear weapons.

Tensions have continued between the United States and North Korea as Kim and President Donald Trump have exchanged insults and threats.

Kim claimed in January that his country has developed the capability to hit the entire U.S. mainland with its nuclear weapons.

Trump then tweeted in response, “North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the ‘Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.’ Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”

Last year, North Korea tested intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) that had the potential range of reaching the United States mainland. Most recently, it launched a Hwasong-15 missile, a new type of ICBM which officials said can fly over 13,000 km (8,080 miles).

Pyongyang said following that launch as well that that it had test-fired its most advanced missile, putting the U.S. mainland within range, and also declared itself to be "a responsible nuclear power".

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