North Korea cancels planned meeting with Pence

The encounter would have been the first scheduled between senior officials from the Trump administration and Pyongyang.

:: United States Vice-President Mike Pence was scheduled to meet with the North Korean delegation during his visit to Pyeongchang for attending the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics earlier this month, but North Korea cancelled the meeting at the last minute, Pence’s Vice-President Office said on Tuesday.

According to the Washington Post, Pence and his aides were supposed to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s sister, Kim Yo- jong, and North Korea’s ceremonial head of state, Kim Yong-nam. However, the North Koreans called off the meeting before it was set to take place due to unknown reasons.

The development ends the speculations when Pence did not meet with Yong-nam and Yo-jong in Pyeongchang, even though he was seated close to the North Korean delegation.

“North Korea dangled a meeting in hopes of the Vice President softening his message, which would have ceded the world stage for their propaganda during the Olympics,” Nick Ayers, Pence’s chief of staff, said in a statement.

The meeting was in the pipeline for a couple of weeks and was scheduled before Pence departed for his two-nation trip through Asia on earlier this month. Pence was expected to use the meeting to “vocalize” the Trump administration’s stance against North Korea, especially on the persistent ballistic missile tests.

Pence was leading the US delegation in the Pyeongchang Winter Games.

Earlier, the US Vice President warned that Washington was planning to impose the “toughest and most aggressive” sanctions against Pyongyang.

However, North Korea reportedly objected to Pence’s announcement of the sanctions, as well as his meeting with North Korean defectors at the White House last month. The meeting was chaired by the US President Donald Trump.

The US and North Korea have long been engaged in back-and-forth barbs over the latter’s threat of a nuclear attack, ever since Trump took over as the US President last year.

Trump threatened to rain “fire and fury” on North Korea and also called Kim Jong-un as a “Little Rocket Man”, while North Korea denounced Trump as a “mentally deranged” US dotard.

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