SANTIAGO, Chile — Vice President Pence is cutting short his Latin America trip by one day to return to Washington for a strategy meeting Friday at Camp David with President Trump and the national security team.
Pence also has canceled two scheduled political appearances on Saturday in Virginia — a campaign stop with Republican gubernatorial nominee Ed Gillespie of Virginia and a speech at the Americans for Prosperity summit. The vice president canceled the appearances to make himself available over the weekend to work on national security matters, according to aides.
Pence was scheduled to spend most of the day Thursday in Panama City and remain overnight there before returning home to Washington on Friday. But instead he will depart Panama on Thursday following a tour of the newly expanded Panama Canal, returning to Washington in time for the Camp David session.
Pence spent Wednesday in Santiago, meeting with Chilean President Michelle Bachelet to discuss a range of issues, including trade and security. Pence said he pressured Bachelet and her country to take a tougher stand against North Korea, in light of that country’s nuclear provocations.
“We strongly urge Chile today — and we urge Brazil, Mexico and Peru — to break all diplomatic and commercial ties to North Korea,” Pence said at a joint news conference with Bachelet.
Pence suggested that Chile reclassify Chilean wine as a luxury good to prevent North Korea from obtaining the commodity and converting it into hard currency to fund its military.
Bachelet did not directly address Pence’s request, though she did state her country’s opposition to North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. She said that Chile backs six-party talks with North Korea, involving South Korea, the United States, China, Russia and Japan, to find “a peaceful path to a peaceful Korean Peninsula without nuclear weapons.”
Pence said the United States is committed to bringing “the full range of American power, economic and diplomatic,” to bear until North Korea abandons its nuclear program.
“As President Trump has made clear, the era of strategic patience is over,” Pence said.
The vice president added: “We are beginning to see progress with dealing with North Korea’s provocations and pursuit of a nuclear ballistic-missile program, but more must still be done. Much more.”