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Pence Left out as Korean Leaders Rejoice in 'Peace Olympics'

  • South Korean President Moon Jae-in shakes hands with Kim Jong Un's younger sister Kim Yo Jong at the Winter Olympics opening ceremony in Pyeongchang.

    South Korean President Moon Jae-in shakes hands with Kim Jong Un's younger sister Kim Yo Jong at the Winter Olympics opening ceremony in Pyeongchang. | Photo: Reuters

Published 10 February 2018

The sister of North Korean leader has invited the South Korean president to visit her brother for talks as they continue ignoring U.S. hostility.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un invited South Korean President Moon Jae-in to Pyongyang "at an early date", the presidential Blue House in Seoul said Saturday, an invitation that was delivered by Kim's sister Kim Yo Jong who is attending the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in the South, amid a historic diplomatic breakthrough between the warring neighbors.

Winter Olympics 2018: Heralding Peace on the Korean Peninsula?

Kim Yo Jong delivered her brother's personal invitation during a meeting with Moon at the Blue House, a presidential spokesman said potentially setting up the first meeting of Korean leaders in more than 10 years.

Moon suggested the two Koreas "make it happen" by creating conditions necessary for him to accept the invitation, the spokesman told a news briefing. A visit by Moon to the North would enable the first summit between leaders from the two Koreas since 2007.

The news comes a day after the Winter Olympics kicked off in South korea which is witnessing a rare diplomatic breakthrough between the two countries.

Moon and Yo Jong shared a historic handshake Thursday and attended the opening ceremony side by side, along with ceremonial leader of North Korea Kim Yong Nam, as North and South Korean athletes marched together under a unified peninsula flag for the first time in a decade.

US Dismisses Diplomatic Overtures Between Korean People

Kim’s sister is the first member of North Korea's ruling family to visit the South, while Kim Yong Nam is the most senior North Korean official to make a cross-border trip.

The unprecedented and historic breakthrough between the two neighbors is happening despite unease and continuing hostility from the United States as U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, who is leading Washington’s delegation to the Games, seems intent on avoiding the North Korean senior delegation and insisting on aggressive rhetoric.

While the spectacle of the two teams was greeted with apparent joy by Moon and his guest Kim Yo Jong, standing from their seats, smiling and handshaking each other, Pence remained seated as the North and South Koreans athletes entered the stadium.

"I am very confident, as President Trump is, that President Moon will continue to stand strongly with us in our extreme-pressure campaign," Pence told NBC in an interview, maintaining all options were open to deal with the crisis.


North Korea Requests 'Forbidden Fuel' From South Korea

"Make no mistake about it, the United States of America has viable military options to deal with a nuclear threat from North Korea but, that being said, we hope for a better path." Also this week he promised that his government would apply the "toughest" sanctions against the North despite the peace efforts.

But the North and South Korean governments, who are technically still at war, seem to have an unwavering determination to ease relations and achieve peace despite U.S. hospitality.

Moon and Kim Yong Nam plan to return to the Games venue to watch the joint Korean women's ice hockey team, the first ever combined team at the Olympics, take on Switzerland, according to the Moon’s spokesperson.

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