Wednesday, 18 September, 2019

Pence mum on North Korea's invitation to South

Syndicate Post image Pence mum on North Korea's invitation to South
Patty Aguilar | 12 February, 2018, 05:27

The leader of the delegation was Kim Yong Nam, the 90-year-old who is technically North Korea's head of state and who was by Kim Jong Un's side as he presided over a huge military parade in Pyongyang the day before traveling to South Korea.

Saturday's meeting also involved the North's ceremonial head of state, Kim Yong-nam, who led what apparently turned out to be a 21-member delegation to the opening ceremony of the PyeongChang Olympics on Friday.

"Always stay healthy and please come and visit Pyongyang with President Moon", Kim Yo Jong told South Korea's First Lady Kim Jung-sook after the show ended.

"Sending his sister with an invite for Moon to Pyongyang is well played by Kim Jong Un", said James Schoff, a Korea expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington. The pressure campaign is not only going to continue, it's going to intensify until they denuclearize and that all options are on the table. In a message in a guest book, she wrote: "I hope Pyongyang and Seoul will become closer in the hearts of Koreans and will bring unification and prosperity in the near future". Some 100 North Korean cheerleaders were on hand, decked in red track suits, leading chants for the spectators and singing North Korean pop songs. During an Olympics reception and at the sporting event's opening ceremony, Pence was not trying to avoid North Korean officials in attendance, the senior administration official told reporters on Saturday, adding that he was trying to ignore them.

After the opening ceremony, the North Korean delegates moved to Seoul and spent the night at the Walkerhill hotel, a riverside facility named after late U.S. Army commander Walton Walker, who's considered a Korean War hero in the South.

"This is the strongest action yet by North Korea to drive a wedge between the South and the United States", said Kim Sung-han, a former South Korean vice foreign minister and now a professor at Korea University in Seoul.

"That's a very unusual time if in fact he is trying to show a warming to a country that he has attacked repeatedly as an American puppet", said the United States defence chief, who is to head next to Brussels and Munich.

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Vice President Pence watches the opening ceremony seated in front of Kim Yo Jong , sister of North Korea's leader. The two Koreas technically remain at war, as the Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty.

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"The fate of our nation must be determined by our own selves - we must not allow the repeat of unfortunate past history where our fate was determined with no regard to our opinions", Moon said in a speech to South Korean lawmakers in November.

But the North Korean cheerleading squad there to support the team?

As the opening ceremony began, Kim and Moon exchanged a handshake and spoke briefly. Global alarm at the rapid advance of nuclear-armed North Korea's weapons technology rose further a year ago when the regime tested its Hwasong-15 ballistic missile theoretically capable of hitting the mainland United States, in a challenge to Washington that has threatened to "utterly destroy" the regime in the event of an attack. But the prospect could sow division between the dovish leader, who has long argued for engagement with the nuclear-armed North to bring it to the negotiating table, and US President Donald Trump, who past year traded personal insults and threats of war with Kim. "North Korea is probably trying to give the impression that it is taking the lead in dialogue".

Throw in there the accusations that South Korea has had to arrange huge payouts for past meetings, and that these earlier encounters, while producing indelible images, have done little to slow North Korea's pursuit of nuclear weapons. Reviving inter-Korean dialogue is critical for the policies of Moon, who insists that Seoul should be in control in worldwide efforts to deal with the North Korean nuclear issue.

Pyongyang conducted its largest nuclear test previous year and in November tested its most advanced intercontinental ballistic missile that experts said has the range to reach anywhere in the United States.

In that regard, Kim Jong Un has scored a victory this week.

Reviving inter-Korean talks is key to the polices of Moon, who says South Korea should be in the driver's seat in global efforts to deal with the North's nuclear threat.

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