NKorea still holds the key after USA shifts policy on talks

Pauline Gross
February 15, 2018

Looking at what happened between South and North Korea in PyeongChang and Seoul over the weekend, some might have difficulty believing that until a short while ago, the two were seemingly at each other's throats, ready to be swept into war in a US-North confrontation over the nuclear crisis.

Trump and his senior aides have given conflicting signals in the past year over the potential for diplomatic engagement to resolve the crisis over North Korea's development of nuclear weapons capable of hitting the United States.

The prospect of negotiations comes after months of tensions over North Korea's nuclear and missile programs, in which U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un traded insults and threats while the United Nations tightened sanctions.

The ministry expressed Seoul's openness to having President Moon Jae-in accept an invitation delivered by Kim Yo Jong to visit the North, but it offered no details about his response.

The team took to the ice for the first time on Saturday, losing to Switzerland but winning over the crowd as North Korean cheerleaders and South Korean fans roared the players on.

Among those who participated in such meetings were the late leader and father of Kim Jong-un, Kim Jong-il, and the late former presidents of the South, Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun, respectively.

Pence said Friday that the US would oppose talks between the two Koreas until the North agreed to open negotiations on ending its nuclear program, and he was silent Saturday on the news of the invitation. Pence, who walked out of an National Football League game last October after players knelt during the anthem to protest police brutality, pointedly remained seated as the Korean team passed in front of him, prompting accusations of hypocrisy.

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The city government's inter-Korean fund was initially established as a disaster relief grant for a train explosion at Ryongchon station, located in the North's North Pyongan Province, in 2004.

US officials doubt that Moon would agree to a summit with Kim without the contours in place of how to move forward on denuclearization, but Revere said the USA government remains concerned that North Korea could exploit Moon's diplomacy to advance its agenda of being accepted as a nuclear weapons state.

North Korea's Rodong Sinmun newspaper, meanwhile, called the delegation's visit a meaningful opportunity to improve bilateral relations and create a peaceful environment on the peninsula. He also has spent more of his time here criticizing the North's human rights oppression and emphasizing the need to continue maximum pressure rather than preaching about reconciliation and peace.

"We've said for some time it's really up to the North Koreans to decide when they're ready to engage with us in a honest way, a meaningful way", Tillerson told reporters in Egypt.

Pence said Washington and Seoul have agreed on terms for further diplomatic engagement with North Korea, first with Seoul and then possibly leading to direct talks with Washington without pre-conditions. The troupe had arrived in South Korea's east coast by ferry, and it was expected to return via the same route. NBC's coverage of the unified Korean women's hockey team described the team as welcomed by the crowd with "heartfelt cheers".

The downside for Washington is that it could expose growing differences with Seoul on the best way to deal with North Korea and achieve the ultimate goal of denuclearization. He remained seated when the joint Korean team entered the stadium, in contrast to Moon who stood along with Kim Jong Un's younger sister, Kim Yo Jong, to applaud.

Other reports by GizPress

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