Ko­rean hos­til­ity thaws at Win­ter Olympics

Herald on Sunday - - WORLD -

South Ko­rean Pres­i­dent Moon Jae-in yes­ter­day met se­nior North Ko­rean of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing leader Kim Jong Un’s sis­ter, over lunch at Seoul’s pres­i­den­tial palace in the most sig­nif­i­cant diplo­matic en­counter between the ri­vals in years.

South Ko­rea says North Ko­rean leader Kim Jong Un has in­vited Moon for a sum­mit meet­ing in the North. His sis­ter ver­bally de­liv- ered his of­fer at the meet­ing.

Spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom said Moon replied that the North and South should con­tinue to build con­di­tions so a sum­mit can take place. He said Moon also called for a quick re­sump­tion of di­a­logue between the US and North Ko­rea. Ear­lier Kim Yo Jong and other North Ko­rean del­e­gates at­tended the open­ing cer­e­mony of the Pyeongchang Win­ter Olympics, which has brought a tem­po­rary lull in ten­sions over the North’s nu­clear pro­gramme.

At the Olympic Sta­dium’s VIP box, Kim Yo Jong and North Ko­rea’s nom­i­nal head of state, Kim Yong Nam, took their place among world dig­ni­taries in­clud­ing US Vice-Pres­i­dent Mike Pence, who sat less than 1m away and seemed to make an ef­fort not to ac­knowl­edge them.

Moon sees the Games as an op­por­tu­nity to re­store reg­u­lar com­mu­ni­ca­tion with North Ko­rea and even­tu­ally pull it into talks over re­solv­ing the in­ter­na­tional stand-off over its nu­clear pro­gramme.

The North and South held sum­mits in Py­ongyang in 2000 and 2007.

Kim Yo Jong, 30, is the first mem­ber of North Ko­rea’s rul­ing fam­ily to visit the South since the end of the 1950-53 Ko­rean War.

Satur­day’s meet­ing was the first time a South Ko­rean pres­i­dent hosted North Ko­rean of­fi­cials at the Blue House since 2007.

Moon and Kim Yo Jong broke out broad smiles as they shook hands be­fore the start of the open­ing cer­e­mony. Moon had ear­lier met Kim Yong Nam dur­ing a din­ner for vis­it­ing dig­ni­taries.

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

Pence and Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe sat nearby, look­ing ex­pres­sion­less.

In a meet­ing hours be­fore Fri­day’s open­ing cer­e­mony, Abe warned Moon not to fall for North Ko­rea’s “smile diplo­macy”, ac­cord­ing to Moon’s of­fice.

Pence car­ried a sim­i­lar mes­sage dur­ing his trip to Ja­pan and South Ko­rea.

The North has sent nearly 500 peo­ple to the Pyeongchang Games.

AP

Kim Yo Jong and Kim Yong Nam sit be­hind Vice-Pres­i­dent Mike Pence.

Kim Jong Un

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