Sunday, 22 July, 2018

Pence raises prospect of United States talks with N. Korea without pre-conditions

Pyeongchang Host city for the 2018 Winter Olympics    
    PYEONGCHANG South Korea is the host city for the 2018 Winter Olympics Pyeongchang Host city for the 2018 Winter Olympics PYEONGCHANG South Korea is the host city for the 2018 Winter Olympics
Troy Mann | 12 February, 2018, 11:11

When asked what exact steps North Korea would have to take to get sanctions relief, he said: "I don't know".

"The latest trip by the high-level delegation served as an important occasion in improving relations between North and South Korea, and setting up an environment for peace on the Korean Peninsula", North Korea's main newspaper Rodong Sinmun reported on Monday.

But conservatives in the South are furious at the initiative, accusing President Moon Jae-in of being a North Korean sympathiser.

And at the Olympics itself, the North and South are competing as a unified "All Korean" team - marching under one flag at the Opening Ceremony and playing together at the ice hockey tournament.

Kim Yong Nam, top left, president of the Presidium of North Korean Parliament, and Kim Yo Jong, sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, top right, sit behind U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, bottom left, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, bottom right, as they watch the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 9, 2018.

Relations between the two Koreas have improved in recent weeks, with Pyongyang agreeing to send its highest ranking delegation ever to attend the Winter Olympic Games, being held in the South Korean resort of Pyeongchang.

Such a meeting, if it came about, would mark the first inter-Korea summit since 2007.

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.

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Joseph DeTrani, former USA special envoy for nuclear talks with North Korea, said Moon should make it clear to Kim that he wants to discuss the nuclear and missile issues at the summit.

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.

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".

Pence did not directly address news of the invitation when asked.

Earlier South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon had hosted a lunch for the Pyongyang delegation at a five-star hotel. Her visit comes one year after the U.S. Treasury Department placed sanctions on Kim for her role in propaganda and "agitation" as part of her family's harsh rule over North Korea, and her government's efforts to develop nuclear weapons.

"Under a strong position for denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, Korea will faithfully implement the global sanctions on North Korea, while also adhering to the principle of resolution through peaceful means", the statement said.

"President Moon must balance his desire for North-South reconciliation with his policy of denuclearization", Manning said.

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