Thursday, 16 August, 2018

Koreas share historic handshake at Olympic opening ceremony

People can visit the North Korean submarine that was stranded in South Korean waters in 1996 People can visit the North Korean submarine that was stranded in South Korean waters in 1996JEAN CHUNG GETTY IMAGES
Ellis Copeland | 12 February, 2018, 08:19

Usually held in April, the parade took place this year on the eve of the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics being staged in the South Korean mountain resort of Pyeongchang, just across the heavily fortified border.

Moon and the two North Korean delegates cheerfully clapped and waved as the athletes from the two Koreas jointly marched during the ceremony holding a blue-and-white flag symbolizing a unified Korean Peninsula. The Koreas could potentially talk about a South Korean special envoy meeting Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang or even a summit between Moon and Kim.

South Korea said on Monday it will try to arrange more reunions for families divided by the Korean War and seek to lower military tensions with North Korea as the first steps towards establishing grounds for a rare summit between the two Koreas.

In South Korea for the start of the Winter Olympics Friday, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence met with defectors from North Korea - accompanied by the father of Otto Warmbier, an American who died after his release from captivity there a year ago.

His office said he did not interact with the North Koreans.

A Reuters analysis shows there has been a gradual decline in conventional weapons on display since 2012, Kim Jong Un's first parade as leader, and a move to showcase more sophisticated weapons such as ballistic missiles.

The 28-year-old is a crucial part of the North's Games delegation led by Kim Yong Nam, North Korea's nominal head of state.

"If there is a message to be conveyed to South Korea or the USA, she is amply well positioned to convey it", he said.

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North Korea has made clear that it does not intend to negotiate away its nuclear and missile programs in return for relief from global sanctions.

The North has refrained from further provocations since testing an intercontinental ballistic missile in November.

Abe discussed North Korea's nuclear and missile programs and brought up the issue of Japanese nationals who were abducted by the North decades ago when he shook hands and briefly spoke with Kim Yong Nam during the dinner hosted by Moon in Pyeongchang, the Kyodo News service quoted the Japanese government as saying.

Abe also said he would convey to Moon Tokyo's position on a 2015 bilateral agreement on "comfort women" - many Korean - who were forced to work in Japanese military brothels during World War Two, while urging "future-oriented" two-way ties.

Pence also spent time at the Cheonan Memorial Friday, to honor a ship sunk by a North Korean torpedo attack in 2010.

In December, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's offered to start talks with North Korea without pre-conditions, but the State Department later said there would first have to be a "period of calm" in which Pyongyang suspends testing before any negotiations could begin.

The North has sent almost 500 people to the Pyeongchang Games, including officials, athletes, artists and also a 230-member state-trained cheering group after the Koreas agreed to a series of conciliatory gestures for the games.

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