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Abe takes up nuclear issue in chat with N Korean ceremonial leader

12 February 2018, 05:10 | Devin Moran

Kim Yo Jong gets into a car in Incheon South Korea on Feb 9 2018

Kim Yo Jong gets into a car in Incheon South Korea on Feb 9 2018

The younger sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un made history Friday when she paid an unprecedented visit to South Korea during the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics.

North Korea is subject to heavy United Nations and U.S. sanctions created to pressure the reclusive, one-party state to abandon its development of nuclear and ballistic missiles.

Following the meeting, Pence press secretary Alyssa Farah said in a statement, "The Vice President is grateful that President Moon reaffirmed his strong commitment to the global maximum pressure campaign and for his support for continued sanctions".

Defense Secretary James Mattis today joined United States efforts to downplay the diplomatic progress being made at the Winter Olympics, accusing North Korea of trying to "drive a wedge" between the US and South Korea, and insisting they would fail. South Korea's presidential Blue House also had no immediate comment.

Athletes from North and South Korea, technically still at war, marched together at the Games opening ceremony.

The official also noted that while Trump believes in talking, in this case, the issue is not about words but about deeds on North Korea's part. "I hope Pyongyang and Seoul get closer in our people's hearts and move forward the future of prosperous unification", Kim Yo Jong wrote.

Neither did Pence shake hands with Kim Yong Nam while making a brief appearance at a leaders' reception ahead of the ceremony - although Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe did so.

Kim Yo Jong is handed a blanket at the Winter Olympics opening ceremony in Pyeongchang South Korea on Feb 9 2018
Kim Yo Jong is handed a blanket at the Winter Olympics opening ceremony in Pyeongchang South Korea on Feb 9 2018

Pence, who was in South Korea for the Olympics, has said the United States and South Korea were closely aligned in their approach to dealing with North Korea.

Diplomatic sources with deep knowledge of North Korea's activities told CNN that despite outwardly positive signs and indications of a "charm offensive" from Pyongyang, what's "unclear and bizarre" is there has not been any concurrent diplomatic movement from North Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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.

North Korea is weak in winter sports, and none of its 22 athletes at Pyeongchang is expected to bring home a medal.

Last night, both Moon and Kim attended the first official Olympic match by the unified Korean women ice hockey team, which they lost 8-0 to the Swiss team.

The two Koreas have been divided since the conflict ended in a ceasefire in 1953, and the democratic South has risen to become the world's 11th-largest economy, while the North has stagnated under the Kim family's rule. The Korean news service reported that spectators who purchased tickets to Olympic events were unable to print their reservations until the site came back online Saturday morning.

Seating plans shown on South Korean television just minutes earlier had Pence sitting to Moon's left, directly opposite Kim.






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