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

Watch the wonderful North Korean cheerleaders at work

Watch the wonderful North Korean cheerleaders at work

It was a sharp, but possibly fleeting, contrast with many months of rising tensions connected to the North's continued development of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.

During Saturday's meeting, the North Korean leader's sister, in her capacity as special envoy for her brother, invited the South Korean chief executive to visit the North.

North Korea has made clear that it does not intend to negotiate away its nuclear and missile programs in return for relief from global sanctions.

The invitation came during talks and a lunch Moon hosted with Kim Yo Jong, the younger sister of Kim Jong Un.

This photo, taken on February 10, 2018, shows President Moon Jae-in (R) receiving North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's letter from Kim Yo-jong, the younger sister of the North's ruler, at Cheong Wa Dae.

"The fight is not over", Mattis said Sunday. "Here's to hoping that we could see the pleasant people (of the South) again in Pyeongchang and bring closer the future where we are one again".

The recent detente, anchored by South Korea's hosting of the Winter Olympic Games, came despite an acceleration in the North's weapons programme past year and pressure from Seoul's allies in Washington. "We can't say right now".

"Make no mistake about it, the United States of America has viable military options to deal with a nuclear threat from North Korea but, that being said, we hope for a better path", he said. The riverside facility is named after late U.S. Army commander Walton Walker, who's considered a war hero in the South for his battles against the North during the Korean War. Kim Yo Jong is 28 years old, according to the USA government.

The North Koreans went through a busy schedule in South Korea as the world watched their every move.

An inter-Korean summit would be the third of its kind, after Kim's father and predecessor Kim Jong Il met the South's Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun in 2000 and 2007 respectively, both of them in Pyongyang.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who stoked anger and protests among his conservative supporters for attending the Olympics opening ceremony in Pyeongchang, sought to find common ground with South Korean President Moon Jae In. Saturday's game ended in a crushing 8-0 loss to Switzerland.

"(The visit) shows that North Korea has a strong will to improve inter-Korean relations and that Pyongyang can make unprecedented and bold measures if deemed necessary", the ministry said.

But they cautioned against any excessive optimism about her travel, saying that an improvement of inter-Korean relations would be limited without progress over the resolution of North Korea's nuclear standoff.

Moon said he wanted to "create the environment for that to be able to happen", according to the office.

The meeting came amid brisk diplomacy among the members of six-party denuclearisation talks - the United States, China, Japan, Russia and the two Koreas.

Any meeting would represent a diplomatic coup for Moon, who swept to power past 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.

By also sending a youthful, photogenic individual who would surely draw worldwide attention at the Olympics, Kim might have also been trying to construct a fresher image of the country, particularly in face of US efforts to use the Olympics as an occasion to highlight the North's brutal human rights record.

She's not what we expected: not stiff, but smiling.

"If it leads to promises of aid, then it would definitely undermine the maximum pressure strategy", Gause said, referring to the proposed summit between the two Koreas. The previous meetings came after rounds of worldwide talks aimed at eliminating the North's nuclear program, which eventually failed. Reviving inter-Korean dialogue is critical for the policies of Moon, who insists that Seoul should be in control in global efforts to deal with the North Korean nuclear issue.

Al Jazeera's Natasha Ghoneim, reporting from the South Korean city of Gangneung, said the meeting would be famous in history.

Pyongyang conducted its largest nuclear test a year ago and said it had developed a missile capable of carrying a warhead to the United States.

A senior administration official aboard Pence's airplane also told reporters that South Korea and Japan "are solidly with our alliance and the need to continue and intensify economic sanctions".

Kim Tong-hyung covers the Koreas for The Associated Press.

Pence had travelled to the Olympics to counter what Washington said was the North's crude attempts to hijack the Games with a propaganda campaign.

Like this: