North Korea to send athletes to next month's Paralympics in South Korea

02 March, 2018, 02:10 | Author: Regina Lloyd
  • This image shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un against the backdrop of a meeting between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Kim's sister Yo-jong, in Seoul on Feb. 10 2018

It marked Moon's second meeting with North Korean officials in just about two weeks.

"It's important that the U.S. and the North sit together as soon as possible", Moon said, urging efforts by Beijing to make that happen.

South Korea may also need to persuade the United States and Japan, which are concerned North Korea is using its outreach to Seoul to relieve pressure over its nuclear programs.

The statement said that "there is a brighter path available for North Korea if it chooses denuclearization". The administration's position is that North Korea must make a clear commitment to eliminating its nuclear and missile programs before any talks can take place.

The North Korean delegation to the South was led by General Kim Yong Chol, who held an hour-long meeting with President Moon Jae-in ahead of the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics.

Pyongyang mounted a charm offensive during the Games, sending athletes, cheerleaders and performers.

For the opening ceremony, the North sent Kim Yo Jong, the younger sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Kim Yong Chol also met Moon's top aides including national security adviser Chung Eui-yong on Monday as conservative demonstrators denounced his presence in the South.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says "we will see".

"Both sides agreed to work together for permanent peace on the Korean peninsula, sustainable relations between North and South Korea and balanced cooperation with the worldwide society", the South's presidential office said in a statement.

Kim is accused of masterminding deadly attacks on the South, including the 2010 sinking of a South Korean warship that left 46 dead.

Kim Yong Chol was head of the North's military intelligence when the 2010 attacks on South Korea took place and is now a vice chairman of the ruling party's central committee tasked with inter-Korea relations.

Reviving inter-Korean dialogue is critical for the policies of Moon, a liberal who insists Seoul should be in control of worldwide efforts to deal with North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

At the opening ceremony earlier this month, Kim Yo Jong sat in the same VIP box with Moon and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, creating some awkward moments.

Outside Olympic Stadium, just before the ceremony, more than 200 anti-Pyongyang protesters waved South Korean and US flags, banged drums and held signs saying "Killer Kim Yong Chol go to hell".

The delegation took a different route, prompting the opposition Korea Liberty Party to accuse President Moon Jae-in's administration of "abuse of power and an act of treason" by re-routing the motorcade to shield it from the protest.

On Friday, Washington announced harsh new sanctions against North Korea, and President Donald Trump alluded to the threat of military action, saying, "If the sanctions don't work, we'll have to go Phase 2".


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