Amid Olympic Détente, Pence Snubs North Koreans In Visit To Pyeongchang

Amid Olympic Détente, Pence Snubs North Koreans In Visit To Pyeongchang

The official said Pence and Moon did not discuss the North Koreans' invitation to Moon for a summit in Pyongyang, which would set the stage for the first meeting of Korean leaders in 10 years.

Pence left South Korea Saturday night, flying out of Pyeongchang after attending a short-track speedskating event with Moon - who then went to watch ice hockey along with Kim and the North Korean delegation.

The visit will mark the first time a member of North Korea's ruling family has visited the South since the 1950-53 Korean War, according to the Associated Press.

North Korea is sending 22 athletes, including three Alpine skiers, to the Pyeongchang Games thanks to special entries given by the International Olympic Committee amid rare reconciliation mood between the rival Koreas. It was attended by some 200 people, including more than two dozen global leaders, including Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

But Schoff said that by pouring cold water on hopes for better inter-Korean relations, Pence's stance could be viewed as critical of Moon's outreach to North Korea.

Meanwhile, North Korea held a military parade Thursday to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the North Korean army, an annual holiday that this year was moved up to the day before the Olympics.

North Korean media print pictures of South's Moon

In the late 199 0s, South Korea persuaded the North to resume sports exchanges with the help of economic aid from a private citizen, Chung Ju-yung, the billionaire founder of South Korea's Hyundai conglomerate.

On Friday, hours before the opening ceremony, Pence met with four North Korea defectors and visited the Cheonan Memorial, which honors the 46 South Korean sailors killed in a 2010 torpedo attack attributed to Pyongyang. The other goal for Pence's appearance was to see Moon for a final time, forging one more photo op of the two, in light of the events of the day.

"We have never begged for dialogue with the USA and will be the same in the future", Cho Yong Sam, a senior official at the North's foreign ministry, was quoted as saying by the communist state's official Korean Central News Agency.

A White House official described the South Korean president as hopeful that there would be "some talks and socializing" between Pence and the North Koreans over the course of the weekend.

Moon called for efforts to "create the right conditions to realise" such a visit, his spokesman said, urging Pyongyang to more actively seek dialogue with the US. In 1999, the two Koreas played friendly basketball matches in Pyongyang and Seoul after ground was broken for an arena Chung donated in the North Korean capital.

Diplomacy and politics aside, the vice president's appearance at the Olympics was also personal. Days later, TV news shows in South Korea are still repeatedly airing footage of Kim walking with President Moon Jae-in, often with a placid smile on her face.


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