Published: Fri, February 23, 2018
World | By Paul Elliott

Ivanka Trump arrives in South Korea for Olympics closing

Ivanka Trump arrives in South Korea for Olympics closing

Apart from attending a formal dinner hosted by South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Trump is expected to stay away from politics, and will instead spend her time attending Olympic events.

Ivanka did not plan to meet with officials from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), said the officials on the condition of anonymity.

The US, which backed South Korea in the Korean War (1950-53) and has thousands of troops stationed at the demilitarised zone between the two Koreas, is keen to emphasise the close relationship with South Korea after weeks of rapprochement between North and South centred on the Winter Olympics. Earlier this week, the US government said Vice President Mike Pence was set to meet North Korean officials during his visit to South Korea for the opening ceremony, but that North Korea canceled at the last minute.

Also attending, but not arriving until the day, is a delegation from the North, led by senior official Kim Yong Chol.

"It's possible to speculate but it can not be stated clearly that Kim Yong Chol gave the order (to torpedo the Cheonan)", said Kang Seok-ho to Yonhap and other reporters after being briefed by the spy agency.

The previous two incidents reported by Japan this year both involved a different North Korean tanker, the Rye Song Gang 1, one of the vessels denied worldwide port access by the Security Council.

There are no indications that Ivanka Trump will meet Kim Yong Chol, vice chairman of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party Central Committee, who is to lead the North's delegation to the closing ceremony.

The progressive Seoul government's decision to overlook Kim's combative past has drawn fierce criticism from conservatives in South Korea.

The minor opposition Party for Democracy and Peace leader Cho Bae-sook also urged the Liberty Korea Party to stop opposing exclusively for the sake of opposition, alluding to the military talks in 2014.

Pence and Kim Yo Jong attended the opening ceremony of the PyeongChang Olympics earlier this month.

For the opening, Kim Jong Un sent his sister, Kim Yo Jong, who was instantly dubbed by the local press "the Ivanka Trump of North Korea" because of her family connections and PR efforts.

He was also linked to a cyber-attack on Sony Pictures in 2014 in a bid to block the release of The Interview, a comedy film based on the North Korean regime.

The United States said on Friday it was imposing its largest package of sanctions against North Korea on Friday, intensifying pressure on Pyongyang to give up its nuclear and missile programs.

"Given Kim Yong Chol's reputation as the mastermind behind the Cheonan sinking, the North could believe his meeting with Moon would help dilute the negative image of him and the country", Nam said.

The new USA sanctions will be announced while Trump's daughter, Ivanka, is visiting South Korea.

The latest sanctions are set to be the largest implemented by the United States against the hermit nation, in retaliation for their continued nuclear and ballistic missile tests.

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