Tuesday, 18 December, 2018

Seoul: North Korea to send delegation to Olympics in South

South Korean Officials Head to Border for Talks With North Ahn Young-joon AP
Melinda Barton | 10 January, 2018, 15:23

"The fact that (the inter-Korean talks) happened, I think, is notable, and that such a step has not been chosen before by North Korea", the USFK commander Gen. Vincent K. Brooks said during a luncheon meeting organized by the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea (AMCHAM) in Seoul.

But the North gave no sign it would do so until leader Kim Jong-Un's New Year speech.

North Korea's participation in the Pyeongchang Games is a tacit guarantee that it will refrain from such provocations during February and March, when the Olympics and Paralympics are held.

Mr. Pence is expected to be joined by Ivanka Trump, although her attendance isn't certain, officials said.

Despite a handful of agreements reached Tuesday, North Korea made no promises on its nuclear and missile programmes and its chief delegate lashed out when the issue was raised.

Sanders told reporters Tuesday that President Trump was briefed over the weekend on the discussions by South Korean President Moon Jae-in and that "the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula is our number one priority".

There were "many problems" to settle between the two sides, he added, warning of "unexpected obstacles" down the road.

Otherwise, "we're back to, week by week, a missile test in North Korea, a tweet from the White House and situation getting worse and worse".

While the South Korean leader said his outreach to the North would not violate United Nations sanctions, critics say his engagement approach could reduce worldwide pressure on the Kim government and weaken the U.S., South Korean military alliance. They will discuss plans for the next round of talks.

China - the North's major diplomatic backer and trade partner - and Russian Federation, with which it also has strong ties, both welcomed the inter-Korea talks.

Much anticipated talks between North and South Korea have wrapped up and are being described as a major diplomatic breakthrough. IOC spokesman Mark Adams said the registration deadline has been extended and that the Switzerland-based committee supports North Korean athletes in the qualification process, while respecting United Nations sanctions against North Korea.

This represents the biggest thaw in relations for years, but Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions were off the negotiating table.