Published: Sun, February 11, 2018
World | By Paul Elliott

North Korea had frank, candid talks with South's president: KCNA

North Korea had frank, candid talks with South's president: KCNA

Kim Yo Jong is the first member of the North's ruling family to set foot in the South since the 1950-53 Korean War, and was in the stands with Moon and Kim Yong Nam to support the two sides' unified women's ice hockey on Saturday - their first joint team at any Olympics.

The formal meeting between Moon and the delegation was held the day after the two nations' athletes marched under a unified flag at the opening ceremony of the Olympics on Friday.

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 dignitaries from around the world, including U.S. Vice President Mike Pence who sat less than a meter away and seemed to make an effort not to acknowledge them.

U.S. President Donald Trump and the North Korean leadership traded insults and threats of nuclear war as tensions rose, with Trump repeatedly dismissing the prospect or value of talks with North Korea.

The invitation, delivered by Kim's visiting sister Kim Yo Jong, said Kim was willing to meet the South's leader "at the earliest date possible", said a spokesman for the presidential Blue House.

On his flight to Alaska on Saturday, the vice president said he left Asia "encouraged that we will continue to work very closely to continue and intensify the maximum pressure campaign" against North Korea.

President Donald Trump and South Korea's President Moon Jae-in shake hands during a meeting at South Korea's presidential Blue House in Seoul, South Korea, November 7, 2017.

And as the South appeared to look favorably on warming ties on the Korean Peninsula, Pence insisted Saturday "there is no daylight" among the United States and allies South Korea and Japan in intensifying pressure on the North over its nuclear and missile programs.

The North also previous year conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test to date.

"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.

Already there have been concerns that North Korea's overture of the sports diplomacy is an indirect attempt by the regime to wedge a rift between the US and South Korea. Pence carried a similar message during his trip to Japan and South Korea.

"And he is encouraging both sides to come together".

A senior Japanese defence official said North Korea's Games charm offensive could "simply be a way to gain time" until it completed its nuclear and ballistic missile development.

But Kelly did not expect the alliance between Washington - which has 28,500 troops stationed in the South to defend it from the North - and Seoul to be put at risk.

The delegation, the highest-ranking to visit the South, concludes its visit later on Sunday having charmed and intrigued the South Korean public, but still faces deep scepticism over the North's sincerity towards improving relations.

But Pence said that Moon told him "a bit" about his meeting with the North Koreans, and that he "appreciated him sharing his perspective on that".

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".

"Now is not the time to postpone U.S". South Korea wants a northern neighbor without nukes; North Korea vows to keep its weapons until the United States discards its "hostile" policies against the country.

Pence has repeatedly said he would deliver a tough message to the North in any meeting.

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