Culture

Kim Jong Un invites South Korean president Moon Jae-in to Pyongyang

Any meeting would represent a diplomatic coup for Moon, who swept to power a year ago on a policy of engaging more with the reclusive North.

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says it's too early to tell if any of the overtures between North and South Korea during the Olympic Games are creating a chance for peace on the Korean Peninsula.

The invitation, delivered by Kim's visiting sister Kim Yo Jong, said Kim was willing to meet the South's leader "at the earliest date possible", said a spokesman for the presidential Blue House.

Neither did Pence shake hands with Kim Yong Nam while making a brief appearance at a leaders' reception ahead of the ceremony - although Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe did so. "The vice-president is grateful that President Moon reaffirmed his strong commitment to the global maximum pressure campaign and for his support for continued sanctions", Pence spokeswoman Alyssa Farah said when asked about the developments.

An inter-Korean summit would be the third of its kind, after Kim's father and predecessor Kim Jong Il met the South's Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun in 2000 and 2007 respectively, both of them in Pyongyang.

The statement from the Ministry of Unification came after the North Korean delegation concluded its three-day visit which included an invitation for South Korean President Moon Jae-in to travel to Pyongyang for talks.

The meeting came amid brisk diplomacy among the members of six-party denuclearisation talks - the United States, China, Japan, Russia and the two Koreas. In it, Kim Jong Un highlighted several huge intercontinental ballistic missiles, which were successfully flight tested three times a year ago and could reach deep into the USA mainland when perfected.

U.S. President Donald Trump and the North Korean leadership traded insults and threats of nuclear war as tensions rose, with Trump repeatedly dismissing the prospect or value of talks with North Korea.

US Vice President Mike Pence, also in South Korea for the Olympics, has said the United States and South Korea were closely aligned in their approach to dealing with North Korea. Pence spoke in an interview on his way home from the Winter Olympics.

The United States may be looking more favourably at diplomatic engagement with North Korea, possibly holding dialogue, as South Korea pushes forward with plans to establish grounds for a rare summit between the two Koreas.

"Japan and South Korea joined the path for dialogue with North Korea, but it continued to develop its nuclear and missile development".

North Korea has spent years developing its military, saying it needs to protect itself from United States aggression.

Washington and Seoul have agreed to suspend their joint military drills until the end of South Korea's Pyeongchang Winter Paralympics on March 18, to which North Korea has pledged to send its athletes.

The North has sent almost 500 people to the Pyeongchang Games, including officials, athletes, artists and also a 230-member state-trained cheering group after the Koreas agreed to a series of conciliatory gestures for the games.

The North Korean delegation then took the bullet train to Gangneung, the venue of all ice competitions, and attended a banquet hosted by the South's unification minister Cho Myong-gyon.

The two Koreas have been divided since the conflict ended in a ceasefire in 1953, and the democratic South has risen to become the world's 11th-largest economy, while the North has stagnated under the Kim family's rule.



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