Vice President Mike Pence, who has led a delegating of US officials to attend the Olympic Games in South Korea, said in an exclusive interview with NBC News that Washington was not ruling out military options as tensions continued to roil the Korean Peninsula.
On the sidelines of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, Pence said the United States would protect itself from North Korea's by taking whatever “action is necessary to defend our homeland.”
“We're going to continue to put all the pressure to bear economically and diplomatically, while preserving all of our military options to see that that happens,” he added.
Pence further said that Washington will “make it crystal clear that our military, the Japanese self-defense forces, our allies here in South Korea, all of our allies across the region, are, are fully prepared to defend our nations and to take what is — action is necessary to defend our homeland.”
Pence tough remarks stand in stark contrast with the most recent development in the relations between South Korea and its rival, the North, who are even setting up a meeting between their leaders.
South Korea's President Moon Jae-in received a formal invitation from North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un to visit Pyongyang later this year. The invitation was delivered to him by Kim's sister, Kim Yo Jong, during a historic meeting between North and South Korean officials at Seoul's presidential palace on Saturday
If takes place, Moon’s travel to Pyongyang will mark the first summit between Kim and his southern counterpart.
Moon even made efforts to facilitate a meeting between North Korean and American officials in his country, but Pence passed up several opportunities during the opening ceremony in Pyeongchang.
According to South Korean media reports, Pence deliberately came late to a VIP gathering on Friday evening and then snubbed officials from Pyongyang.
US officials traveling with Pence, however, claimed that the vice president did not deliberately snub North Korean officials.
Pence were in close proximity to North Koreans, including Kim’s sister and the nominal head of state, Kim Yong Nam. The US officials said that if the North Koreans had approached Pence with pleasantries, he would have responded in kind.
The US and North Korea have been engaged in years of hostility that have been worsening lately with exchanges of military threats between US President Donald Trump and Kim.