Sun, Feb 11, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Kim invites S Korea’s Moon to meet in Pyongyang

CIRCUMSTANCES:The South Korean president sought to appease the US, saying that although the two Koreas are appearing together at the Games, the allies are in lockstep

Bloomberg

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un`s sister Kim Yo Jong, left, hands over an autographed letter from Kim Jong Un to South Korea`s President Moon Jae-in during their meeting at the presidential Blue House in Seoul yesterday.

Photo: AFP

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un yesterday invited South Korean President Moon Jae-in to meet in Pyongyang, a dramatic gesture that might raise prospects for easing tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

The invitation was verbally delivered by Kim’s sister, Kim Yo-jong, during a meeting at Moon’s presidential compound in Seoul a day after the opening ceremony for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea.

A Moon-Kim summit would mark the first time leaders of the two countries have met in 11 years.

Moon’s office provided conflicting accounts of whether he would go to Pyongyang. A Blue House official initially said the president had accepted Kim Jong-un’s offer, but that was later denied by chief spokesman Yoon Young-chan.

“What the president said exactly is let’s create the right circumstances to make it happen,” Yoon said in a statement. “And we hope you take the comment as it is.”

Blue House office official Shin Jee-yeon later told reporters: “We should read more into it that there are preconditions that should be met rather than calling it a conditional acceptance.”

A dialogue between North Korea and the US is among actions that would improve the atmosphere for a meeting, Yonhap reported, citing an unidentified Blue House official.

While a summit in Pyongyang would signal warming ties on the peninsula, it also risks driving a wedge into the alliance between the US and South Korea.

US President Donald Trump has sought to maximize pressure on North Korea to convince Kim Jong-un to give up his nuclear weapons, and his administration has not ruled out a pre-emptive attack.

Moon sought to reassure US Vice President Mike Pence that the allies remain in lockstep despite North Korea’s joint appearance at the Olympics.

On Friday, Pence said there was “no daylight” between the allies in pushing for denuclearization of the peninsula.

Yet, in a statement responding to Kim Jong-un’s invitation to Moon, Pence’s office did not even mention the potential summit.

“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,” press secretary Alyssa Farah said.

At the lunch meeting, Moon gave a toast to inter-Korean peace and prosperity.

“The entire world is watching us here today and expectations on both Koreas are high,” Moon said.

Kim Yo-jong told Moon that relations would improve quickly once he meets with her brother.

“I hope President Moon will take the leading role to open a new chapter for unification and accomplish a legacy that will be remembered for long,” she said.

Leaders of the two nations have only meet twice since the peninsula was divided in 1948. They are technically still at war.

The last summit was held in October 2007 between Roh Moo-hyun and Kim Jong-il, the father of the North Korean leader. The pair signed a peace declaration calling to end the armistice with a permanent treaty, but progress stalled and the two sides remain in a stalemate.

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