Published: Mon, February 12, 2018
World | By Paul Elliott

International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach to visit North Korea after Winter Olympics

International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach to visit North Korea after Winter Olympics

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 program.

Kim Yo-jong, 30, is the first member of the North's ruling family to visit the South since the end of the Korean War.

The team had included 12 North Korean players.

A Blue House official said Moon "practically accepted" the invitation.

Interestingly, the two women ascended the steps together during the opening ceremony to pass the torch to former figure skating Olympic champion Kim Yu Na who lit the cauldron. North Korea's participation in the event has been viewed as a sign of thawing relations between the two Koreas.

"If you want to get a hold of Kim Jong-un and you're a North Korean, maybe you should befriend Kim Yo Jong", Madden said. "That is a very odd time, if in fact he is trying to show a warming", Mattis said, referring to Kim Jong Un.

Moon shook Kim's hand; Pence stared forward and refused to engage with her.

Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un impersonators at Winter Olympics
Matt Kryger USA TODAY Sports Images

"We will not allow North Korean propaganda to hijack the message and imagery of the Olympic Games", he said in Japan earlier this week.

"But he stayed there the entire time. and talked to Moon and Abe and their spouses, and the North Koreans sat in the back and didn't talk to anybody, and that image is telling".

But North Korea's record on human rights and the growing threat from its nuclear weapons program appeared out of mind.

Moon was invited to a summit with Kim, even as the USA warned against falling for Pyongyang's Olympic charm offensive.

Earlier in the week, he joined Pence at a meeting with North Korean defectors. (During a New Year's Day speech, Kim Jong Un said "North and South must work together to alleviate the tensions and work together as a people of the same heritage to find peace and stability.") Kim added that he wanted North Korean athletes to participate in the Olympics.

During the bilateral talks over lunch, neither side made mention of Pyongyang's nuclear issue, which is attracting worldwide attention as a major security concern and has heightened tensions, a presidential office source said. The Treasury Department believes Kim Yo Jong is 28, although some news outlets, including the Associated Press, say she is 30. "That's the team he's going to be cheering for all Olympics".

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