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Heading home, Pence insists 'no daylight' on North Korea

12 February 2018, 05:42 | Taylor George

Getty Images

Getty Images

Both of those South Korean presidents had struggled under growing domestic criticism after their trips to Pyongyang had resulted in large shipments of aid and investment but failed to end the North's nuclear weapons program.

The organizers of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, said on Sunday that a cyber attack took place during the opening ceremonies on Friday.

President Thomas Bach will visit North Korea after the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics as part of an agreement between the IOC and North and South Korea, a source within the Olympic movement told Reuters on Monday.

"Moon is saying that although he is keen to reboot inter-Korean relations, the dialogue between the United States and the North is essential", said the South Korean president's spokesperson.

Kim Jong-il, Kim's father, had met with two South Korean presidents in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, before his death in 2011: with President Kim Dae-jung in 2000, and with President Roh Moo-hyun in 2007.

Pence spent the days leading up to the games warning that the North was trying to "hijack the message and imagery of the Olympic Games" with its "propaganda".

Mattis said South Korea's defence minister Admiral Song Young-moo gave assurance that Seoul's alliance with the U.S. was unaffected by Pyongyang's overtures to Moon.

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The previous meetings came after rounds of global talks aimed at eliminating the North's nuclear program, which eventually failed. Pence did not interact with the North Koreans even though he was seated in the same box as them at Friday's opening ceremony.

"It is too early to say if. using the Olympics in a way to reduce tensions, if that is going to have any traction once the Olympics are over, we can't say right now", Mattis said.

Moon has said he hopes to be able to set the conditions to hold a summit between the two leaders in the North.

And second, U.S. and North Korean officials this high up the food chain rarely if ever get this close to one another - let alone in the midst of a tense nuclear standoff of the kind we've seen over the past several months. Pence and his wife, who also attended the Winter Games opening ceremony, were the only people in the VIP seating section to not stand and clap during the Korean unity demonstration.

But when the two Koreas, who have been separated for 70 years, march in together, it should still be an electrifying moment on this peninsula and around the world. The North's taekwondo team arrived in the South on Wednesday.

In its first reports about the Games, North Korea's state-run media slammed U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on Saturday for what it called "shameful" and "snobbish" behavior not in line with the spirit of the Olympics.

"The grievances that the world has about North Korea are very legitimate".

"The vice president is grateful that President Moon reaffirmed his strong commitment to the global maximum pressure campaign and for his support for continued sanctions", Pence spokeswoman Alyssa Farah said when asked about the developments.



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