Published: Mon, February 12, 2018

South Korea's Moon hosts talks with North Korean leader's sister

South Korea's Moon hosts talks with North Korean leader's sister

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.

The South Koreans want to use the Olympics to ease tensions spurred by North Korea's pursuit of nuclear weapons.

And while Moon could not miss the chance to "lower the temperature in the room" by engaging with Kim during her visit for the Olympics, her public relations blitz could subject the South Korean president to criticism that "he fell for a charm offensive", Kang said.

Kim Eui-kyeom, South Korean president's spokesman, said at a news conference in Seoul on Saturday that the North Korean delegation delievered the invitation letter at a landmark high-level meeting at the presidential palace in Seoul.

In stark contrast, two kinds of kimchi - the fermented cabbage that features in every Korean meal - were on the menu for the delegation's lunch with Moon at the Blue House on Saturday, one mild Northern style version and a spicier Southern recipe, along with soju, the traditional Korean rice liquor.

The two Koreas have been divided since the conflict ended in a ceasefire in 1953, and the democratic South has risen to become the world's 11th-largest economy, while the North has stagnated under the Kim family's rule.

The North is under a set of multilayered global sanctions due to its provocations, with U.S. President Donald Trump showing no signs of letting up on a "maximum pressure' campaign to press the North to give up its nuclear arsenal".

"We are now going to witness how powerful the sports can bring to promote peace and reconciliation and friendship and harmony between South and North Korea", former United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who spoke before the show began, said.

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.


The North's invitation proposal has thrown President Moon into a delicate balancing act, between improving long-stalled cross-border ties while not hurting the critical alliance with the USA, and the worldwide unity in pressuring Pyongyang to give up nuclear weapons.

The North showed off long-range missiles, including the Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile that may be capable of reaching the US mainland, in a message that it would not abandon its nuclear and missile programs.

"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.

He said the U.S. would take whatever "action is necessary to defend our homeland" against the North Korean nuclear threat, according to an interview with NBC.

North Korea has spent years developing its military, saying it needs to protect itself from United States aggression.

The North has sent almost 500 people to the Pyeongchang Games, including officials, athletes, artists and also a 230-member state-trained cheering group after the Koreas agreed to a series of conciliatory gestures for the games.

A visit by Moon to the North would be only the third inter-Korean summit to take place. -South Korean war games that North Korea claims are preparation for invasion.

Angela Ruggiero, a four-times ice hockey world champion and Olympic gold medallist, told Reuters she would ask others to nominate the team, which included 12 players from North Korea which is still technically at war with the South. They may also see a performance by a visiting North Korean art troupe in Seoul on Sunday before flying back to Pyongyang.

"The South and North shared an understanding that they should continue the positive mood for peace and reconciliation created by the Pyeongchang Olympics and should promote inter-Korean dialogue, exchanges and cooperation", Moon's office said in a statement.

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