Friday, 22 June, 2018

Pence `Encouraged' by Talks With South Korea's Moon at Olympics

OLYMPICS-2018/NORTHKOREA-PROTEST North Korea's over-the-top cheerleaders cause a stir in Pyeongchang
Laurie Berry | 12 February, 2018, 14:14

Before Moon and Pence met Saturday at an Olympic speed-skating event, the South Korean president met with Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

But conservatives in the South are furious at the initiative, accusing President Moon Jae-in of being a North Korean sympathiser. Pence endorsed a change of tactics after Moon assured him the North Koreans wouldn't get economic or diplomatic benefits just for talking - they must take concrete steps toward denuclearization.

The meeting could be a prelude to a summit between leaders from the two countries, and Moon has already said he is willing to travel to Pyongyang to meet Kim Jong-un.

Regarding the invitation, the White House told Yonhap News that Washington is closely cooperating with the South in order to produce a "united response" to Pyongyang.

Loud applause greeted the appearance of Moon, Kim Yo Jong and her delegation at the concert, attended by more than a thousand people.

These displays of unity at the Olympics fill us with hope
The Koreas previously held summits in 2000 and 2007, both hosted in Pyongyang by Kim Jong Il, Kim Jong Un's late father. Only 70 years after the nation split, and despite a common language, the differences between the two halves are vast.

Kim Yo-jong carried a bright blue folder as she entered the conference room at the Blue House, Seoul's presidential office, and some analysts speculated it could contain a letter from her brother.

Blue House spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom cited Moon as replying: "Let's create the environment for that to be able to happen".

"The point is, no pressure comes off until they are actually doing something that the alliance believes represents a meaningful step toward denuclearization", the Post quoted Pence as saying during an interview on his way back from South Korea.

Kim Yong Nam, the North's nominal head of state who was also at Saturday's meeting, said "even unexpected difficulties and ordeals could be surely overcome and the future of reunification brought earlier when having a firm will and taking courage and determination to usher in a new heyday of inter-Korean relations". He refused to acknowledge Kim Yong-nam during a brief stop at a dinner Friday night and remained seated when athletes from North and South Korea marched in the opening ceremony. In public comments, he repeatedly emphasized the strength of the U.S. alliance with South Korea and the need for North Korea to give up its nuclear ambitions.

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