On a bipartisan basis, Presidents and foreign policy experts in both parties have basically clung to the proposition that the leadership of North Korea in general, and the Kim family is, for lack of a better way of putting it, insane and suicidal. But he also indicated the need to make the North understand this policy.
In Wednesday's speech, Pence said the USA wants to make sure North Korea understands the U.S. stance and that if there is an opportunity for talks, President Donald Trump has made it clear he always believes in talking.
These remarks reinforce the idea that Washington is looking to continue its maximum pressure campaign but that the door to dialogue with North Korea is simultaneously open.
The potential for diplomacy between the US and North Korea has gained traction since the regime's leader, Kim Jong-un, offered to send a delegation to this month's Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.
Kim's younger sister, Yo-jong, was sent to South Korea last week to attend the opening ceremony of the Games and extend an invitation to South Korean President Moon Jae-in to visit Pyongyang.More news: Several Dog Food Products Recalled Over Salmonella Concerns for Pets and Humans
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Speaking in Washington on Wednesday, Pence harshly criticized North Korea as "the most tyrannical and oppressive regime on the planet".
The U.S.is "willing to engage North Korea to emphasize our position that the complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is non-negotiable", the official said.
"The maximum pressure campaign is going to continue and intensify but if you want to talk, we'll talk", Nauert told reporters on Tuesday. Even though he emphasized talks are not negotiations, it shows the USA has changed its attitude. "So we'll just have to wait and see". But it is unlikely that North Korea would come to the negotiating table for its denuclearization. North Korea's track record with negotiations is well known.
This was a shift from the day before, when an NSC spokesperson said, "The improvement of relations between North and South Korea can not advance separately from resolving North Korea's nuclear program".