March 20, 2018

Pence, Moon speak after Moon invited to visit North Korea

11 February 2018, 05:56 | Taylor George

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2018 Winter Olympics

From the South Korean side, the unification minister and Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung participated in the banquet along with Lee Hee-beom, the president of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games organizing committee, and Choi Moon-soon, governor of the Gangwon province where the host city is located. But the verbal message on Saturday to come at a "convenient time" from dictator Kim Jong Un, delivered by his visiting younger sister, Kim Yo Jong, is part of a sudden rush of improving feelings between the rivals during the Pyeongchang Olympics.

Moon and the two North Korean delegates cheerfully clapped and waved as the athletes from the two Koreas jointly marched during the ceremony holding a blue-and-white flag symbolizing a unified Korean Peninsula.

The spokesman said Moon also called for a quick resumption of dialogue between the United States and North Korea.

Vice President Mike Pence and South Korean President Moon Jae-in chatted Saturday while watching Olympic speedskaters compete, just hours after Moon received a historic invitation to visit North Korea.

It was the US that appeared to be the one left in the cold, especially after the sister of the North Korean dictator extended an invitation from her brother for Moon to visit the North.

"I am very confident, as President Trump is, that President Moon will continue to stand strongly with us in our extreme-pressure campaign", Pence told NBC in an interview on Friday, maintaining all options were open to deal with the crisis.

Any meeting would represent a diplomatic coup for Moon, who swept to power previous year on a policy of engaging more with the reclusive North and has pushed for a diplomatic solution to the standoff over North Korea's nuclear and missile programme.

"The North Koreans should understand that for a summit or any kind of serious talks to occur, Moon needs to be able to take something to Washington - something that addresses denuclearization", he said before the North's invitation to Moon was announced.

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US officials have been urging South Korea to be cautious in its rapprochement with the North.

North and South Korea are technically still at war after their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce rather than a peace treaty. Moon said in response to the invitation that he hopes that the right conditions will be created so that the proposed visit will be realized.

Pence said the United States and South Korea were closely aligned in their approach to dealing with North Korea.

An editorial in the Yomiuri Newspaper read: "What can not be overlooked is that Moon did not directly demand North Korea to abandon its nuclear development".

Moon joined Kim Yo Jong and other North Korean supporters Saturday in cheering for the team against Switzerland. A big one could be a demand to cease the U.S.

Over the course of the summit, which also included Kim Yong-nam (North Korea's ceremonial head of state) and Ri Son-gwon (North Korea's chief negotiator), Ms. Kim passed a handwritten note from her brother to South Korea's President.

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.

He also did not 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, whose country is also regularly threatened by Pyongyang, did so, while exchanging pleasantries with the North Korean. Pence carried a similar message.

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