North Korea keeps mum on summit invite as its delegation completes South visit

From Reuters - February 11, 2018

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Koreas delegation sent to the Winter Olympics held frank and candid talks with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, the North Korean news agency said on Sunday, but it made no mention of the Norths invitation to Moon to Pyongyang for a summit.

The delegation, the highest-ranking to visit the South and led by the younger sister of the Norths leader Kim Jong Un, concluded its visit on Sunday after charming and intriguing the South Korean public, but still faces deep scepticism over Pyongyangs sincerity towards improving relations.

Any summit between the two still-officially warring Koreas would be a coup for Moon, who has been pushing for a diplomatic solution to the standoff over North Koreas nuclear and missile programs.

In a rare honor for visiting foreign guests, Moon met Kims sister, Kim Yo Jong, four times during the delegations three-day visit. Moons chief of staff held a farewell dinner for the delegation before the delegation attended a performance by a North Korean orchestra, the last item on their itinerary before heading home.

I never thought I would visit (the South) so suddenly and believed much would be strange and different but I saw many things that were similar or the same, said Kim Yo Jong in a toast during Sundays dinner, adding she hoped to meet the friendly faces before her later in Pyongyang.

Earlier South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon had hosted a lunch for the Pyongyang delegation at a five-star hotel.

On Saturday Kim Yo Jong courteously handed over a personal letter from the North Korean leader to Moon and told him of her brothers intention, North Koreas state news agency KCNA said, without elaborating what that was.

South Korean officials said Moon had been invited to Pyongyang to speak with Kim Jong Un during the talks and lunch that Moon hosted at the presidential Blue House in Seoul on Saturday.

Such a meeting, if it came about, would mark the first inter-Korea summit since 2007.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, back in Washington after attending the opening of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, said the United States, South Korea and Japan were in complete agreement on isolating North Korea over its nuclear weapons program.

There is no daylight between the United States, the Republic of Korea and Japan on the need to continue to isolate North Korea economically and diplomatically until they abandon their nuclear and ballistic missile program, Pence told reporters during the return flight to the United States.

A White House official said although Moon did not discuss the invitation with Pence, the South Korean president made it very clear that only when North Korea actually starts to take steps to denuclearise would anyone even consider beginning to take the pressure off.



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