March 20, 2018

N.Korea invites SKorean leader for summit in Pyongyang

11 February 2018, 06:28 | Taylor George

South Korean leader welcomes North Korean delegation to presidential palace

Japan PM says US, Japan, South Korea cooperation on North Korea is firm

(Reuters/Jorge Silva) Kim Yo Jong, top right, sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, sits alongside Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of North Korean Parliament, and behind U.S. vice president Mike Pence as she watches the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

Dressed in long, white padded jackets, they followed the flag with a blue silhouette of the Korean Peninsula against a white background.

Mr Pence seeks to counter what he called North Korean "propaganda" around the Winter Olympics, and is eager to put a reality check on the thaw in relations between the Koreas in advance of the Games.

The NPR has been welcomed by South Korea as a reaffirmation of Washington's commitment to providing extended nuclear deterrence for its allies in the face of increasing threats from North Korea.

"Our resolve to stand with you is unshakable", Pence said. Pence was also at the dinner and reportedly refused to shake the elderly North Korean's hand.

Pence warned before departing Japan earlier Thursday that past attempts to pursue openings with the North have been met with "willful deception, broken promises and endless and escalating provocations".

Vice President Pence (L, front row) sits next to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the opening ceremony of the Olympics on February 9, 2018. A big one could be a demand to cease the U.S. Moon asked the delegation, before reporters were ushered from the room.

Moon has invited Kim and other senior North Korean officials to a luncheon at Seoul's presidential palace on Saturday.

Moon hosted talks and a lunch with Kim Yo Jong, the younger sister of the North Korean leader, at the presidential Blue House in Seoul.

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When athletes from North and South Korea entered together, the background music was the traditional folk song "Arirang". Mr Moon has previously said he will need reassurance from the North that it would help resolve the nuclear crisis.

Kim Yo Jong arrived in South Korea on Friday with Kim Yong Nam, the North's nominal head of state, for the opening ceremony in the alpine town of Pyeongchang.

It's highly unlikely that the luncheon will lead to an immediate breakthrough in worldwide tensions over North Korea's nuclear weapons development, but just holding such a meeting seemed unimaginable only a few months ago.

Kim Yo Jong was to have lunch Sunday with South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon, the country's No. 2 official, and return to Pyongyang on Kim Jong Un's private jet later in the day. She was promoted by her brother a year ago to be an alternate member of the decision-making political bureau of the ruling party's central committee, which analysts said showed that her activities are more substantive than previously thought.

On the South Korean side of the meeting of course South Korean President Moon Jae-in chief of National Security Council Chung Eui-yong, his chief of staff, the unification minister, and chief of the South's intelligence agency.

South Korea and the DPRK fielded a joint women's ice hockey team, the first Olympic team between the two Koreas.

But Ms Kim has risen to greater authority far more quickly than her once powerful aunt, said Dr Cheong Seong Chang, an analyst at the Sejong Institute think-tank. He has also been a vocal critic of any use of military force against North Korea, which is being considered as an option in President Donald Trump's administration.

Pence is leading the USA delegation to the opening ceremonies, where he has worked to pour cold water on warming ties between the two Koreas.

Tensions between the two soared past year as Pyongyang launched intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the U.S. mainland and carried out by far its most powerful nuclear test to date. The night before, Kim and other North Korean delegates attended the opening ceremony of the Olympics, watching a "unified" Korean team march under a banner showing an undivided Korean Peninsula.

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