North Korea's Kim invites S Korean leader to Pyongyang

North Korea's Kim invites S Korean leader to Pyongyang

North Korea's Kim invites S Korean leader to Pyongyang

A rare invitation to Pyongyang for South Korea's president marked Day Two of the North Korean Kim dynasty's southern road tour Saturday, part of an accelerating diplomatic thaw that included some Korean liquor over lunch and the shared joy of watching a "unified" Korea team play hockey at the Olympics.

Kim is an increasingly prominent figure in her brother's government and the first member of the North's ruling family to visit the South since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.

The North showed off long-range missiles, including the Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile that may be capable of reaching the US mainland, in a message that it would not abandon its nuclear and missile programs.

The North Korean delegation arrived in the South on Kim's private plane on Friday via Incheon worldwide airport to attend the opening ceremony of the Pyongchang Winter Olympics where Seoul and Pyongyang are represented by joint teams.

The delegation, the highest-ranking to visit the South, concludes its visit later on Sunday having charmed and intrigued the South Korean public, but still faces deep scepticism over the North's sincerity towards improving relations.

South Korea accepted North Korea's demand to transport more than 100 art troupe members by sea, using the Mangyongbong-92 ferryboat as an exception to the maritime sanctions it imposed on the North, which is a controversial move amid concerns that the North is trying to use the Olympics to squirm out of global sanctions.

A White House official said although Moon did not discuss the invitation with Pence, the South Korean president made it very clear that only when North Korea actually starts to take steps to denuclearize would anyone even consider beginning to take the pressure off.

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"This is the strongest action yet by North Korea to drive a wedge between the South and the United States", said Kim Sung-han, a former South Korean vice foreign minister and now a professor at Korea University in Seoul. Kim Jong-nam, the leader's half brother, was killed in Malaysia past year, apparently on the orders of the Pyongyang regime. Moon's chief of staff held a farewell dinner for the delegation before the delegation attended a performance by a North Korean orchestra, the last item on their itinerary before heading home.

After the opening ceremony, the North Korean delegates moved to Seoul and spent the night at the Walkerhill hotel, a riverside facility named after late U.S. Army commander Walton Walker, who's considered a Korean War hero in the South.

During Sunday's lunch at the Walkerhill Hotel, Prime Minister Lee told the North Korean delegation he hoped the "right conditions" would be created for the two heads of state to meet, an official from Lee's office said. "And he is encouraging both sides to come together".

Kim Yo Jong and North Korea's Kim Yong Nam at the women's hockey game between Switzerland and the combined Koreas at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea on February 10, 2018.

He also talked about visiting the North Korean border town of Kaesong, where the countries operated a joint factory park that had been a symbol of rapprochement before South Korea shut it down in 2016, after North Korea's fourth nuclear test.

"It is absolutely necessary for the North and the United States to engage in talks at an early date", he cited Moon as saying.

Japanese editorials sounded a similar warning, saying dialogue would be meaningless unless it led to denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. Additionally, he urged the hermit kingdom to "actively pursue" efforts to hold dialogue with the US.

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