Monday, 12 November, 2018

Kim Jong Un Invites South Korean President Moon Jae-in To Pyongyang

Stadium spectators wave a unified Korean flag Stadium spectators wave a unified Korean flag
Ellis Copeland | 11 February, 2018, 01:55

Saturday's meeting between the two neighbours - technically still at war - is the first since 2007 when North Korea's premier visited the presidential palace.

Members of a delegation from North Korea, part of an Olympics partnership between the two Korean rivals, watched from high in the stadium a performance called "The Land of Peace" and as past South Korean athletes paraded a large southern flag.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence also attended the Games opening ceremony but had no contact with the North Korean delegation.

Pence said the United States and South Korea were closely aligned in their approach to dealing with North Korea.

Kim Yo Jong and Kim Yong Nam arrived Friday afternoon, leading a senior delegation.

Kim's sister Kim Yo Jong, who is visiting South Korea as his special envoy for the Winter Olympics, conveyed her brother's invitation during a meeting at the presidential Blue House, officials from the Blue House said.

Based on their agreements, the North has sent hundreds of its athletes, cheerleaders, an art troupe and staffers to the games, which kicked off on Friday in the South's eastern town of PyeongChang.

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But cyberattacks and other forms of assault were a big point of fearful contention prior to the games in South Korea as tensions with long-time, adjacent adversary North Korea and much of the diplomatic world have become even more strained.

Two South Korean presidents, both of them progressives, have gone to Pyongyang for summits before, both with Kim Jong Un's father.

"There is no daylight between the United States, the Republic of Korea, and Japan on the need to continue to isolate North Korea economically and diplomatically until they abandon their nuclear ballistic missile program", Pence said in comments carried by CNN.

"Of course, there will be a long way to go before realizing denuclearization but we can say that the invitation could herald possibly opening of a channel for dialogue between the two leaders", Park Jeong-jin, vice director of the Institute for Far Eastern Studies, said.

The Trump administration, and successive American administrations before it, has insisted that North Korea must give up its nuclear weapons program if it wants to be treated as part of the worldwide community. Pyongyang has repeatedly said it needs a deterrent to stop the United States attacking it. The first liberal president in a decade, Moon during his inauguration speech previous year that he would be willing to visit Pyongyang and meet with Kim Jong Un if that helps solve the nuclear problem.

North Korea's decision to participate has eased tensions after months of saber rattling and missile and nuclear tests that have raised fears it's closer-than-expected to achieving its goal of developing a nuclear weapon that could reach the USA mainland. This was not supposed to be, as some in Seoul grumble, the "Pyongyang Games", a play on the North Korean capital's phonetic similarity to Pyeongchang.

This has exposed the gaps between Seoul and Washington in how to deal with North Korea.

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