Vice President Mike Pence said Wednesday that the U.S. is moving into the “trust but verify” phase of ending North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, and he said Americans’ prayers can help achieve lasting peace.
Speaking to the Southern Baptist convention in Dallas, Texas, Mr. Pence said President Trump’s summit with North Korean Kim Jong-un in Singapore resulted in “a bold first step” of Mr. Kim’s promise to get rid of his weapons of mass destruction.
“Now comes vigorous negotiations to implement the agreement … as soon as possible,” Mr. Pence said. “As we move forward with further negotiations, we will now trust but verify. Our sanctions will remain in place until North Korea’s nuclear weapons are no longer a factor. We will not repeat the mistakes of the past.”
The vice president said the work ahead “will be an arduous process requiring American resolve and courage.”
“The president and I both know it will take one more thing,” he told the Baptist gathering, paraphrasing a Bible verse. “While strong American leadership has accomplished much, he and I both know that the effective and fervent prayers of a righteous people can availeth much more. So let’s all pray, let’s pray for peace for the Korean people and the world.”
Mr. Pence said the president’s summit talks with the reclusive North Korean leader were “direct, honest, provocative and productive.”
Among the agreements reached, Mr. Pence said it was “deeply meaningful to me” that North Korea committed to recover and repatriate the remains of more than 5,000 U.S. soldiers who are still missing in action from the Korean War, which ended with a truce in 1953.
Mr. Pence’s father, 2nd Lt. Edward Pence Jr., served in the U.S. Army in the Korean War and was awarded the Bronze Star.
“We are finally going to bring our boys home,” Mr. Pence said to sustained applause.
He said Mr. Trump’s new strategy of heavy sanctions and “tough rhetoric” on North Korea have resulted in the progress so far.
“Our president has already accomplished much when it comes to North Korea,” Mr. Pence said. “North Korea hasn’t fired a missile test in seven months. Historic inter-Korean peace summits have occurred. And three American hostages came home [in May].”
The vice president also credited the family of Otto Warmbier, the American student who died from an unexplained brain injury last year shortly after being returned from captivity in North Korea.
“Otto’s loss was a tragedy that grieved the heart of this nation, but the courage of his parents in the wake of that loss helped bring us to this milestone,” Mr. Pence said. “As the president said, Otto did not die in vain. Their example and the president’s stand on peace through strength brought us to this day.”
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