Pence `Encouraged' by Talks With South Korea's Moon at Olympics

Evarado Alatorre
Febrero 12, 2018

South Korean president Moon Jae-in has met North Korean officials, including Kim Jong-un's sister, over lunch at Seoul's presidential palace, a historic event that is the highest level contact between the two nations in more than a decade. It isn't clear if the White House would support such a meeting.

South Korea's top diplomat promised to pull through new diplomatic challenges actively and creatively Monday after North Korea invited the South's president to an inter-Korean summit.

Days later, TV news shows in South Korea are still repeatedly airing footage of Kim walking with President Moon Jae-in, often with a placid smile on her face.

The statement from the Ministry of Unification came after the North Korean delegation concluded its three-day visit.

Observers believe the two countries will seek to conduct the leaders' meeting in short order.

"It's a breakthrough", said Michael Breen, the author of Kim Jong-il: North Korea's Dear Leader. Her visit comes one year after the U.S. Treasury Department placed sanctions on Kim for her role in propaganda and "agitation" as part of her family's harsh rule over North Korea, and her government's efforts to develop nuclear weapons. "But this is a good beginning", Mr. Breen said - one that raises the possibility of more talks between the worldwide community and the world's most isolated regime.

While the two Koreas were all smiles during meetings on the sidelines of the Winter Games, Vice President Mike Pence vowed to maintain the administration's policy of "maximum diplomatic and economic pressure" against the North.

It was very rare for a South Korean president to hold formal talks with high-ranking North Korean officials, as the two countries remain technically at war after an armistice stopped the 1950-53 Korean War.

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Her presence helped the theme of Korean unity to dominate the opening ceremony as the two Koreas marched under one flag.

Speaking to reporters on his flight home on Saturday, Pence said the United States, South Korea and Japan were in complete agreement on isolating North Korea over its nuclear weapons program.

The possibility of a summit with Mr. Kim now raises questions over whether Mr. Moon will be willing to extend those measures.

Any move in that direction risks straining relations with Washington.

But if the Trump administration objects, it "will put the a very hard position in terms of public relations in South Korea", Mr. Han said.

"I hope that Pyongyang and Seoul will become closer in the hearts of our people and that the future of reunified prosperity will be hastened", she wrote.

She's not what we expected: not stiff, but smiling. "I think they take a message from the fact that she is young, sophisticated and super elite as an indication that the North Koreans want to calm things down a little bit".

"Under a strong position for denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, Korea will faithfully implement the worldwide sanctions on North Korea, while also adhering to the principle of resolution through peaceful means", the statement said.

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