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North Korea had frank, candid talks with South's president: KCNA

12 February 2018, 02:15 | Melvin Schneider

North Korea had frank, candid talks with South's president: KCNA

North Korea had frank, candid talks with South's president: KCNA

The United States is ready to engage in talks about North Korea's nuclear program even as it maintains pressure on Kim Jong Un's regime, Vice President Mike Pence said, signaling a shift in American policy.

Kim's sister Kim Yo Jong delivered the verbal invitation on Friday after arriving in Pyeongchang for the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics.

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".

"We should firmly keep in mind that any talks where denuclearization is not a precondition only buy North Korea more time to complete its nuclear capabilities while they fool us with their peace offensive fa├žade", said Chang Je-won, spokesman for the Liberty Korea Party.

The comments represent a departure from the Trump administration's previous stance that North Korea must first agree to discuss giving up its nuclear weapons before talks began.

"We're going to continue to put all the pressure to bear economically and diplomatically, while preserving all of our military options to see that that happens", Pence said.

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They said Pence could have opted to sit with the U.S. delegation and avoided the box that included the North Koreans. Kim Yo Jong is probably Kim's closest confidant and is a senior cadre in North Korea's ruling party.

South Korea's presidential office said after the meeting that the North Korean leader has invited Moon to visit his country and expressed willingness to improve inter-Korean ties in the letter.

"Although many Koreans are welcoming North Korea's participation in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are also significant criticism and concerns both domestically and internationally", the statement said. "Doing so gives the USA many more options to use in its negotiations with North Korea".

North Korea's high-level delegation to the Pyeongchang Olympics held a luncheon on Sunday with South Korea's top officials.

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". South Korea "will faithfully implement the global sanctions on North Korea, while also adhering to the principle of resolution through peaceful means", it said.

During their meeting President Moon was pictured smiling and shaking hands with Kim Yo Jong. The Post reported that Pence and Moon hammered out the strategy during conversations at the presidential Blue House and during a speedskating event.



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