By Cheryl Pellerin
US Vice President Mike Pence spoke to U.S. and South Korean troops today and answered their questions at the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea, where he reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to its long-standing alliance with South Korea.
Pence is in the Asia-Pacific region to visit top officials in Seoul, South Korea; Tokyo; Jakarta, Indonesia; and Sydney for discussions on economic engagement and evolving security challenges.
“It’s my great honor to represent the president of the United States here in the Demilitarized Zone. And I’m very grateful for the leadership of General Brooks and General Lee and the ironclad and immutable alliance that is represented here by these two strong military leaders,” Pence said in his remarks to the troops.
Army Gen. Vincent K. Brooks is the commander of U.S. Forces Korea, Combined Forces Command and United Nations Command. Army Gen. Lee Sun-jin is South Korea’s chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The vice president brought greetings from President Donald J. Trump and commended the troops for their vigilance “here along this historic frontier of freedom.”
“We express the resolve of the people of the United States of America to stand together in the months and years ahead with the people of South Korea to both preserve their freedom and ensure the objective of a denuclearized Korean Peninsula,” the vice president added. Pence said he and the president are heartened by the support of allies across the Asia-Pacific region, including China, adding that all will continue to advance that objective.
“I’m here to express the resolve of the people of the United States and the president of the United States to achieve that objective through peaceable means, through negotiations, but all options are on the table as we continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the people of South Korea,” the vice president said.
After his remarks, Pence took questions from the troops.
In response to a question about whether Chinese officials would help convince North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to end his ballistic missile and nuclear testing, the vice president said Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping had a frank discussion about a broad range of international issues, including the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula when Xi visited Trump earlier this month in Florida.
“I know the president is hopeful that China will use its influence here on the Korean Peninsula with North Korea to achieve that objective,” he said. “And we are heartened by some initial steps that China has taken in this regard, but we look for them to do more.”
The U.S. hope is to achieve the denuclearization of North Korea by working with China, Japan and other allies in the region through peaceable means, the vice president added.