This picture provided by Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Feb. 9, 2018 shows the top leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) Kim Jong Un attending the military parade marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of Korean People's Army in Pyongyang, capital of the DPRK. (Xinhua/KCNA)
WASHINGTON, Feb. 12 (Xinhua) -- The United States and South Korea have agreed on terms for further engagement and even conversation with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), U.S. media reported on Monday, citing Vice President Mike Pence.
In an interview aboard Air Force Two on the way home from the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, Pence told the Washington Post that in his two substantive conversations with South Korean President Moon Jae-in during his trip, they agreed that the engagement shall be conducted "first by the South Koreans and potentially with the United States soon thereafter."
According to the Washington Post, Pence referred the still-nascent plan as "maximum pressure and engagement at the same time," revealing a change from the previous U.S. position that emphasized in building "maximum pressure" until Pyongyang agreed to abandon its nuclear weapon program in exchange for direct engagement with Washington.
The Trump administration has engaged in "maximum pressure" against the DPRK since assuming office in January, 2017, to curb Pyongyang's nuclear and missile development program.
The United States and its allies will not stop imposing steep and escalating costs on the DPRK until it takes clear steps toward denuclearization, the report said, adding but the Trump administration is now willing to sit down and talk with the regime while that pressure campaign is ongoing.
"The point is, no pressure comes off until they are actually doing something that the alliance believes represents a meaningful step toward denuclearization," Pence was quoted by the Washington Post as saying.
"So the maximum pressure campaign is going to continue and intensify. But if you want to talk, we'll talk," he said.
According to the report, Moon assured Pence in their meeting that he would tell the DPRK clearly that they would not get economic or diplomatic benefits for just talking -- only for taking concrete steps toward denuclearization. Based on that assurance, Pence felt confident he could endorse post-Olympic engagement with Pyongyang.
Pence added that Moon has urged the DPRK side to "talk to the Americans" in their meeting.