US officials revealed on Tuesday that North Korea has abruptly canceled a scheduled meeting with Vice President Mike Pence during the Winter Olympics. “North Korea dangled a meeting in hopes of the Vice President softening his message,” explained Pence’s chief of staff in a statement.

Pence in South Korea (archive)

Pence in South Korea (archive) Photo Credit: EPA

Pyongyang canceled a possibly historic meeting with US Vice President Mike Pence officials while he in South Korea for the 2018 Winter Olympics, US officials said on Tuesday. Pence was set to meet with regime leader Kim Jong Un’s sister and other high-ranking officials before the dictatorship canceled at the last minute.

“The Vice President was ready to take this opportunity to drive home the necessity of North Korea abandoning its illicit ballistic missile and nuclear programs,” said State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert in a statement. “We regret their failure to seize this opportunity.”

“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,” said Pence’s chief of staff Nick Ayers in a statement. “But as we’ve said from day one about the trip: This administration will stand in the way of Kim’s desire to whitewash their murderous regime with nice photo ops at the Olympics.”

As previously reported by JOL, Pence said in an interview earlier this month that Washington had agreed on terms for future talks with North Korea. The understanding was reportedly reached between the US and South Korean officials during the vice president’s visit to the country.

“The point is, no pressure comes off until they are actually doing something that the alliance believes represents a meaningful step toward denuclearization,” Pence said at the time. “So the maximum pressure campaign is going to continue and intensify. But if you want to talk, we’ll talk.”