Published: Mon, February 12, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Mattis says North Korea can't drive wedge between South, US

Mattis says North Korea can't drive wedge between South, US

South Korean President Moon Jae-in's gambit to use the Olympics as a form of diplomacy has produced a dramatic gesture - an invitation from Kim Jong Un to hold talks between the two leaders in North Korea - but it is a long way from a major breakthrough.

On Wednesday in Washington, U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis declined to comment on whether Vice President Mike Pence will meet with North Korean officials during the Olympics, but he also did not rule out the possibility.

During their summit in South Korea on Friday, Abe told Moon that the military drills between Seoul and Washington should be carried out to change North Korea's behavior, the office said.

That meant that he avoided spending much time with the North Korean delegation, including Kim Yong-nam, the country's ceremonial head of state.

Many experts say Kim's overture is meant to use improved ties with Seoul as a way to weaken USA -led worldwide sanctions toughened after its series of big weapons tests past year that include its sixth and largest nuclear test explosion and three intercontinental ballistic missile launches.

Mr Pence stood to welcome the U.S. athletes as the Korean pop hit "Gangnam Style" blared around the stadium, sparking the "Horse Dance" in the crowd and among the volunteers.

"We have to be unified [with North Korea]".

Adam Rippon doesn't want his monthlong dispute with Mike Pence over the USA vice president's record on gay rights to overshadow his long-awaited Olympic performance.

The delegation has been in the country since arriving Friday to attend the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

The delegations shared a lunch of dried pollack dumpling soup, a regional specialty of the only divided province on the Korean peninsula.

After decades of bloodshed and strife, including a runup to the Olympic Games that saw the rival Koreas lurching toward war amid a near-constant barrage of North Korean missile and nuke tests, it's such a ludicrous concept at first glance that many refuse to even consider it.

Kim Yo Jong top right sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un sits alongside Kim Yong Nam president of the Presidium of North Korean Parliament and behind U.S. Vice President Mike Pence as she watches the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympic
S. Korean unification minister hosts dinner meeting for ranking DPRK delegation

In a tweet, he reasserted the sceptical view taken his administration regarding recent conciliatory gestures by North Korea.

There was joy for South Korea when short-track speed skater Lim Hyo-jun won the first gold for hosts on day one, claiming the men's 1500m in front of a near-capacity crowd.

The procession of North Korea's military could showcase the Kim Jong Un regime's latest weapons, created to deter a potential attack from the United States or South Korea.

Kate Yoo, 21, who like Yoon spoke to CNN during Saturday's hockey match between Switzerland and the unified Korean team, said she doesn't think it's "the best thing to have her here, although maybe part of having one of the Kim dynasty over is like a safeguard, then they won't attack".

Moon has benefited from the rock star-like reception that Kim Jong Un's sister, Kim Yo Jong, has received here. While it would be a diplomatic coup for Moon, who was elected on a promise to pursue warmer relations with the North, it could strain relations with the United States, which has appeared uncomfortable at the warm welcome afforded to the North Korean delegation over the past few days. They said Pence could have opted to sit with the USA delegation and avoided the box that included the North Koreans.

Mr Pence shook hands with other leaders, including close ally Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, but not Kim Yong-nam.

"South Korea has some hard homework to solve regarding some countries", President Moon said in a speech before Pence arrived.

The North is a notoriously tough negotiator, adamant that it needs its "treasured sword" of nuclear weapons to defend itself against the threat of invasion by the United States, and will never give them up.

North and South Korea are technically still at war after their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce rather than a peace treaty.

Pence, who is leading the United States delegation to the Olympics, briefly encountered Kim Yong-nam at the Games but the two tried to avoid directly facing each other.

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