19 February 2018

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02/09/2018 KOREA

At Olympics, two Koreas and the rest of the world will become one, says Moon Jae-in

Seoul is committed to dialogue and peaceful problem solving with North Korea. Moon greeted Kim Yong-nam, North Korea’s ceremonial head of state. Pence met North Korean defectors. US and North Korean officials did not have any contact.

Seoul (AsiaNews/Agencies) –  At the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, “South Korea, North Korea and the rest of the world will become one," said South Korea’s Presidential Office in a press release following a meeting between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, in Gangneung, 230 kilometres from the capital.

On this occasion, the two leaders reaffirmed their efforts to make the Olympics the "start" of building global peace. "President Moon expressed hope that Secretary-General Guterres' trip to South Korea will promote 'inclusion and solidarity,'” as well as the Games’ “message of peace" in the peninsula and the world, the Presidential Office’s press release said.

South Korea’ also president greeted Kim Yong-nam, North Korea’s ceremonial head of state, the highest-ranking North Korean official to visit the South since 1953. The latter heads a high-level delegation from Pyongyang, which includes Kim Yo-jong, Kim Jong-un's younger sister. She is seen as favouring a more open North Korea.

The United States has instead taken a more provocative and inflexible line. US Vice President Mike Pence on Friday visited memorials for South Korean sailors killed by the North's maritime attacks and met with a group of defectors from the repressive regime.

Pence told the latter that he was “grateful” for their courage. “As we speak, a hundred thousand North Koreans are living in modern day gulags,” he said.

The slim hope for a meeting between US and North Korean officials has thus been dashed. The US State Department on Tuesday said the US had no plans to meet with North Korean officials on the margins of the Olympics. The North had earlier said it had "never begged for dialogue with the US and will be the same in the future."

Meanwhile, the Winter Olympics are set to open today in the presence of many world leaders. They already provided an opportunity to restart the inter-Korean talks.

In his New Year speech, North Korea’s Kim Jong-un announced that his country was ready to compete in the Games in response to an olive branch extended by South Korea. Seoul promptly reacted, starting a process on 9 January that led the international Olympic Committee to give its approval on 20 January.

See also

02/01/2018 10:24:00 KOREA
Kim Jong-un opens to Winter Games in South Korea. Seoul: Let's sit down and talk

The proposal of the Minister of Unification in a press conference. Moon: dissolve frozen relations. It would be the first summit since December 2015.

10/01/2018 13:32:00 KOREA
Moon: talks and sanctions for peace on the Korean Peninsula

For the South Korean president, both are needed to stop the North’s nuclear programme. Pyongyang said that missiles are aimed at the US, not its southern "brethren", Russia or China. US remains sceptical whilst the EU is optimistic.

05/01/2018 09:04:00 KOREA
Pyongyang accepts Seoul's outstretched hand: talks on January 9th

The two Koreas will meet in the demilitarized zone on January 9th. Postponement of US-South Korea military exercises to facilitate meeting. Seoul seeks to restore inter-Korean relations without distancing US ally.

25/01/2018 09:30:00 KOREA
PyeongChang Olympics, dialogue continues. Pyongyang: 'breakthrough' needed for reunification

Today the North Korean athletes of the hockey team arrive. Criticism and applause for Moon: Olympics of Peace or Pyongyang?

09/01/2018 09:21:00 KOREA
North Korea will send a high-level Olympic delegation to Pyeongchang

After two years of tensions, the first meeting between delegations from North and South Korea. Seoul proposes that North and South athletes march side by side in the opening and closing ceremonies of the Games (February 9-25, 2018).

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