Vice President Mike Pence asks region to work with US to restore democracy in Venezuela

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday urged Latin American nations to cut ties with North Korea in an effort to pressure it to abandon its nuclear and missile programs.

Pence, who is on a five-day tour of the region, said he is hoping Brazil, Mexico, Peru and Chile will break all commercial and diplomatic relations with Pyongyang.

"The U.S. places great importance on the ongoing diplomatic isolation of the Kim [Jong-un] regime," he said in Santiago, Chile, during a joint news conference with President Michelle Bachelet.

Pence added that if Latin American countries sever all ties with the North, Pyongyang would understand “there is a cost” for defying the international community.

President Donald Trump last week warned Kim “will truly regret it” if he continues to threaten the U.S. and its allies, adding he would face "fire and fury.”

Kim responded by saying he would fire missiles at the Pacific island of Guam, a U.S. territory, but later said he was delaying the move as he waited to see what Washington would do next.

Turning to the region, Pence said the U.S. will use its “strength and diplomacy” until democracy is reinstated in Venezuela.

"We will work together in Venezuela. We all live in the same neighborhood, and we will continue working together to help our neighbors," he said.

The South American nation has been struggling to get a handle on a political crisis that has led to mass protests and instability the government blames on interference by the U.S. and its regional allies.

Bachelet said her country was willing to "explore ways to contribute to the restoration of democracy in Venezuela” through peaceful means.

"Chile will not support coup d’états or military interventions," she said, adding her nation would support sanctions adopted by the UN Security Council.

"I want to be very clear. Chile will do everything possible to support the Venezuelans to find the peaceful road," she said.

Pence has visited Argentina and Colombia and will end his Latin America tour Thursday after visiting Panama.

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