Could direct talks between the U.S. and North Korea be on the horizon?
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence -- fresh from his trip to South Korea for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics -- has reportedly said Washington is open to dialogue with North Korea.
Park Soyun reports.
The U.S. government is said to be willing to sit down for talks with North Korea.
The opportunity was reached after an understanding between the White House and President Moon Jae-in during U.S. Vice President Mike Pence's visit for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
Pence said South Korea and the U.S. agreed to further engage in talks with North Korea, possibly following inter-Korean talks.
The U.S. will continue its policy of maximum pressure and continue to impose harsh sanctions on North Korea, but at the same time be open to talks without preconditions.
Pence told the Washington Post that South Korea and the U.S. will pursue a policy of "maximum pressure and engagement at the same time."
This marks an important change from the previous U.S. stance, which was focused mainly on maximum pressure and confirming Pyongyang's determination for denuclearization.
Pence added the pressure campaign will intensify but the Trump administration is open to talks if the regime shows a willingness to do so.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Monday that it's too early to judge whether the latest developments represent the start of a new diplomatic process.
Speaking in Cairo on Monday,... Tillerson added it's "up to North Korea" to decide the time to engage in meaningful and serious talks with the U.S.
"It's too early to judge. As we have said for some time, it's really up to the North Koreans to decide when they are ready to engage with us in a sincere way, a meaningful way. They know what has to be on the table for conversations. We've said for some time that I think it's important that we have... we are going to need to have some discussions that precede any form of negotiation."
During his recent trip to Northeast Asia, Pence announced that the U.S. would soon unveil its toughest ever sanctions on North Korea that may include maritime interdiction and a naval blockade.
With the apparent shift in U.S. policy, watchers are hopeful for a significant breakthrough in bringing peace to the Korean peninsula.
Park So-yun, Arirang News.