WASHINGTON (AFP) - Kim Jong Un's decision to invite Donald Trump to a historic summit is evidence that the American leader's efforts to isolate his North Korean counterpart are bearing fruit, US Vice-President Mike Pence said on Friday (March 9).
"North Korea's desire to meet to discuss denuclearisation - while suspending all ballistic missile and nuclear testing - is evidence that President Trump's strategy to isolate the Kim regime is working," Pence said in a statement.
The North Koreans "are coming to the table despite the United States making zero concessions and, in close coordination with our allies, we have consistently increased the pressure on the Kim regime," he said.
"Our resolve is undeterred and our policy remains the same: all sanctions remain in place and the maximum pressure campaign will continue until North Korea takes concrete, permanent, and verifiable steps to end their nuclear programme."
Trump's agreement on Thursday to meet North Korea's reclusive leader marked a stunning development in America's high-stakes nuclear standoff with North Korea - interpreted by some analysts as a diplomatic win for Kim.
Previous North Korean leaders have sought face-to-face talks with consecutive US presidents, who consistently rebuffed the idea.
Faced with Pyongyang's race to develop a nuclear weapon capable of hitting the continental United States, Trump's strategy has been to ramp up sanctions, tighten the diplomatic screws and regularly threaten military force.
But as last month's Winter Olympics drove a rapprochement on the peninsula, Pence travelled to South Korea, rubbing shoulders with Kim's sister, and appearing open to a meeting with North Korean officials - although it was the North Koreans and South Koreans who actually met.
US officials said Pyongyang had scrapped secretly planned talks at the last minute after Pence denounced abuses from North Korea's "murderous regime".