Monday, 26 February, 2018

North and South Korea celebrate peace through taekwondo show

North and South Korea celebrate peace through taekwondo show North and South Korea celebrate peace through taekwondo show
Ellis Copeland | 12 February, 2018, 08:28

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's sister joined South Korea's president at a concert Sunday as she wound up a whirlwind round of Olympic diplomacy capped by an invitation to hold the first summit between the two adversaries in more than a decade.

Earlier South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon had hosted a lunch for the Pyongyang delegation at a five-star hotel.

The statement from the Ministry of Unification came after a high-level North Korean delegation concluded a three-day visit which included an invitation for South Korean President Moon Jae-in to travel to Pyongyang for talks.

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.

Moon responded by saying he hopes the right environment will be created so the meeting between the two leaders could occur, an apparent reference to demands by the US and other allies that the North abandon its nuclear weapons program.

"Moon should realize that offering economic benefits for symbolic North Korean gestures is not only ineffectual but would themselves risk being violations of United Nations resolutions", Klingner said.

VP Mike Pence sits between Karen Pence and Japanese PM Shinzo Abe at the opening ceremony, behind Pence are Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of North Korean Parliament, and Kim Yo Jong, sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

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.

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The North Korean diplomatic initiative comes amid growing worldwide pressure, led by the United States, aimed at imposing maximum economic and diplomatic pressure on the regime.

Analysts say Kim Jong Un's decision to send his sister to the South reflected an eagerness to break out of diplomatic isolation by improving ties with the South, which the country could eventually use as a bridge to approach the United States.

"If it leads to promises of aid, then it would definitely undermine the maximum pressure strategy", Gause said, referring to the proposed summit between the two Koreas.

Sunday's KCNA report cited Moon as saying inter-Korean relations should be mended by the parties concerned "at any cost as indicated by Chairman Kim Jong Un in his New Year Address".

However, South Korea's main opposition party warned that any talks between the two Koreas where the scrapping of North Korea's nuclear program was not a precondition would only "benefit the enemy".

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".

Though Moon has used the Olympics to resurrect meaningful communication with North Korea after a diplomatic stalemate over its nuclear program, he didn't immediately jump on the North Korean offer for a summit.

"President Moon must balance his desire for North-South reconciliation with his policy of denuclearization", Manning said. It was a sharp, but possibly fleeting, contrast with many months of rising tensions connected to the North's continued development of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.

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