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North Korea's Kim invites South Korean president for summit

11 February 2018, 11:24 | Taylor George

North Korea's Kim invites South Korean president for summit

North Korea's Kim invites South Korean president for summit

SEOUL, North Korea's state news agency said on Sunday its delegation sent to the Winter Olympics held "frank and candid" talks with South Korean President Moon Jae-in but there was no mention of the North's invitation to Moon to Pyongyang for a summit.

The personal invitation from Kim was delivered verbally by his younger sister, Kim Yo Jong, during talks and a lunch Moon hosted at the presidential Blue House in Seoul.

The Opening Ceremony of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games was a spectacle to behold, but two notable individuals did not get to witness the pageantry.

A North-South Olympics detente has raised concerns in Washington and Tokyo that Seoul may ease up on the "maximum pressure" campaign by the United States and its allies to rein in North Korea.

On Saturday Kim Yo Jan and other members of the North Korean delegation ate lunch with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the presidential palace.

A White House official described the South Korean president as hopeful that there would be "some talks and socializing" between Pence and the North Koreans over the course of the weekend.

"They can be both a friend and an enemy", he said.

"Having these red communists in the heart of Seoul is a humiliation!" one demonstrator yelled near the theater as dozens waved signs and banners condemning Moon and Kim Jong Un.

After years of accelerated missile development, which culminated in successful tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles and, allegedly, a hydrogen bomb last year, North Korea's nuclear programme has become an imminent threat not only to its neighbours, but also to the US.

The earlier performance was the first by North Koreans in the South since August 2002.

South Korea treated the ferry as an exception to maritime sanctions it imposed on the North so it could transport the artists to the South.

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A visit by Moon to the North would enable the first summit between leaders from the two Koreas since 2007, and would mark only the third inter-Korean summit to take place.

So as pleasant as that lunch between North and South Korean leadership may have been, it won't mean much until diplomats from the US settle in for some of the local delicacies.

Moon is desperate to use the games as an opportunity to restore regular communication with North Korea and eventually pull it into talks over resolving the worldwide standoff over its nuclear program.

Moon's office said he told Abe that the talks between the Koreas would not disrupt worldwide efforts to deal with North Korea's nuclear program.

Pence's cold demeanor toward the North Koreans at the Pyeongchang games was overshadowed by friendly cooperation between the North and South.

Analysts say the North's decision Kim Yo Jong to the Olympics shows an ambition to break out from diplomatic isolation and pressure by improving relations with the South, which it could use as a bridge for approaching the United States.

As First Vice Director of the Central Committee of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party, Kim has been an increasingly prominent figure in North Korea's leadership and is considered one of the few people who has earned her brother's absolute trust.

Any meeting would represent a diplomatic coup for Moon, who swept to power a year ago on a policy of engaging more with the reclusive North.

Neither did Pence shake hands with Kim Yong Nam while making a brief appearance at a leaders' reception ahead of the ceremony - although Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe did so. It was built in the 1960s as a luxury facility for US troops stationed in the South. Could they meet? That and other theories have engulfed South Korean media.

Then when the Korean team entered the stadium under a unified flag, Pence sat stone-faced while Moon and North Korean officials stood together in applause.



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