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


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

The delegation of 22 officials from the North arrived on Friday in order to attend the opening ceremony for the Winter Olympics.

President Donald Trump and the North's leader Kim Jong Un have engaged in a series of personal insults.

South Korea said on Monday it will try to arrange more reunions for families divided by the Korean War and seek to lower military tensions with North Korea as the first steps towards establishing grounds for a rare summit between the two Koreas. It was a sharp, but possibly fleeting, contrast with many months of rising tensions connected to the North's continued development of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles. The North and the United States were also holding a series of high-level talks on Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programmes.

Japanese Prime Minister's Shinzo Abe told Moon during their meeting at Cheong Wa Dae that he favors the swift resumption of joint US-South Korean military exercises, which had been delayed until after the Olympics to ensure calm during the Olympics. It was built in the 1960s as a luxury facility for USA troops stationed in the South.

After meeting with Moon, the North Korean delegates boarded a bullet train to Gangneung, a coastal city hosting some Olympic events.

The most important part of the visit, however, came during one of the quieter moments.

Moon is desperate to use the games as an opportunity to restore regular communication with North Korea and eventually pull it into talks over resolving the global standoff over its nuclear program. Moon has long argued for engagement with the North to bring it to the negotiating table over its nuclear ambitions, but did not immediately accept the offer.

A visit by Moon to the North would be only the third inter-Korean summit to take place.

Kim's presence at the Olympics has presented people in South Korea and beyond with something new to know about North Korea.

Pence did not interact with the North Koreans even though he was seated in the same box as them at Friday's opening ceremony.

Reuters reported Saturday that newfound cooperation between the two countries, which do not now have a diplomatic relationship, began as a result of the South's willingness to allow the North to participate in the Olympic Games activities now being hosted in South Korea.

By also sending a youthful, photogenic individual who would surely draw worldwide attention at the Olympics, Kim might have also been trying to construct a fresher image of the country, particularly in face of US efforts to use the Olympics as an occasion to highlight the North's brutal human rights record.

The Koreas previously held summits in 2000 and 2007, both hosted in Pyongyang by Kim Jong Il, Kim Jong Un's late father. Previously, the U.S. had ruled out any possibility of talks with the North unless it agreed to discuss giving up its nuclear weapons.

Although inter-Korean talks are occurring on the sidelines of the Olympics, Pence is confident that Seoul and Tokyo "are solidly with our alliance and the need to continue and intensify economic sanctions", the official said. But the prospect could sow division between the dovish leader, who has long argued for engagement with the nuclear-armed North to bring it to the negotiating table, and US President Donald Trump, who previous year traded personal insults and threats of war with Kim.

This story has been corrected to show that the North Korean delegation stayed at the Walkerhill, not Wakerhill, hotel.