Thursday, 24 May, 2018

Make the most of a hopeful sign of thaw with North Korea

Olympics: 'Queen Yuna' thrilled with final torchbearer role Pence avoids Kim Jong-un's sister at Olympics
Rita Gibson | 12 February, 2018, 16:39

South Korean President Moon Jae-in's office says his lunch meeting with senior North Korean officials including leader Kim Jong Un's sister has ended.

A Blue House official said Moon "practically accepted" the invitation.

Earlier, it has suggested that talks could start between the U.S. and North Korea once South Korea suspends its joint military exercise with South Korea.

The prospect of two-way talks between the Koreas, however, may not be welcomed by the United States.

Vice President Pence in a new interview published on Sunday indicated the United States would be willing to engage in talks with North Korea without preconditions as the Trump administration seeks to pressure Pyongyang to end its nuclear program.

The 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea has already been a huge hit, if only because for the first time in history North and South Korea competed together during a women's hockey match on Saturday.

Moon recalled his past visit to the North's Diamond Mountain resort, where he and his mother met his North Korean aunt during a temporary reunion of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.

Pyongyang conducted its largest nuclear test past year and in November tested its most advanced intercontinental ballistic missile that experts said has the range to reach anywhere in the United States.

But the prospect could sow division between the dovish leader, who has long argued for engagement with the nuclear-armed North to bring it to the negotiating table, and US President Donald Trump, who a year ago traded personal insults and threats of war with Kim.

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And as the South appeared to look favorably on warming ties on the Korean Peninsula, Pence insisted Saturday "there is no daylight" among the United States and allies South Korea and Japan in intensifying pressure on the North over its nuclear and missile programs.

Vice President Mike Pence's communications director Jarrod Agen used a New York Times headline to highlight a distinct difference between North Korea and the United States on Sunday.

North Korea agreed to participate in Pyeongchang after the South and International Olympic Committee encouraged the heavily sanctioned state to participate as a gesture of peace.

Showing a flair for the dramatic, Kim Yo Jong carried a blue folder with a personal letter from her brother, carefully placing it on a table where the delegation sat across from Moon and his aides.

The delegation includes the North Korean ceremonial head of state Kim Yong Nam, who has attended different global games before, and Kim Yo-jong, Kim Jong-un's younger sister.

A joint ice hockey team, comprising of both North and South Korean players will take part in the Winter Games.

Though South Korea is hosting the Winter Olympic Games for the first time, the nation has some experience in the world of global athletics, having hosted the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul.

The North's delegation to the Games also includes the country's ceremonial head of state as well as hundreds of female cheerleaders.

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