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

South and North Korean officials continue exchange during Olympics

South and North Korean officials continue exchange during Olympics

"The latest trip by the high-level delegation served as an important occasion in improving relations between North and South Korea, and setting up an environment for peace on the Korean Peninsula", North Korea's main newspaper Rodong Sinmun reported on Monday.

Experts say that it is critical for South Korea to get the USA and other partners on board in its efforts to turn the current peace mood being created by the Olympics - and the North's participation therein - into meaningful steps to denuclearize the North, a task the foreign ministry is supposed to spearhead going forward.

Kim Yo-jong reportedly delivered an invitation from her brother for Moon to visit Pyongyang for closer talks and cooperation.

And Kim's sister, Kim Yo-jong, made history by becoming the first member of the North's ruling family to visit the South since the Korean War in the mid-20th century.

Such a summit, if it came about, would mark the first time that leaders of the two Koreas have met since 2007. South Korea suggested the formation of a joint team as part of its efforts to use the Games to re-engage with the North and pave the way for talks over the North's weapons programme.

Others chanted 'Let's tear Kim Jong-un to death!' while tearing up a picture of the North Korean leader.

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 and has pushed for a diplomatic solution to the standoff over North Korea's nuclear and missile program.

Kim Yong Nam, the North's nominal head of state who was also at Saturday's meeting, said "even unexpected difficulties and ordeals could be surely overcome and the future of reunification brought earlier when having a firm will and taking courage and determination to usher in a new heyday of inter-Korean relations".

He also insisted that Washington was on the same page with its allies, saying "there is no daylight between the United States, the Republic of Korea, and Japan on the need to continue to isolate North Korea economically and diplomatically until they abandon their nuclear ballistic missile program".

Pence, who left South Korea on Saturday, told reporters traveling with him that Moon had informed him about the meeting with North Korean officials. However, South Korea has been more willing to re-engage with the North than its old U.S. war ally, which wants Seoul to keep piling diplomatic and economic pressure on its neighbour.

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