Kim Jong Un invites South Korea’s Moon Jae-in to summit in Pyongyang
Seoul/Tokyo: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un invited South Korean President Moon Jae-in to meet in Pyongyang, a dramatic gesture that may raise prospects for easing tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
The invitation was delivered by Kim’s sister, Kim Jo Yong, during a Saturday meeting at Moon’s presidential compound in Seoul a day after the opening ceremony for the Winter Olympics in South Korea. A Moon-Kim summit would mark the first time leaders of two countries have met in 11 years.
While a summit in Pyongyang would signal warming ties on the peninsula, it also risks driving a wedge in the alliance between the US and South Korea. President Donald Trump has sought to maximize pressure on North Korea to pressure Kim into giving up his nuclear weapons, and his administration hasn’t ruled out a preemptive attack.
Moon sought to reassure US vice president Mike Pence that the allies remained in lockstep despite North Korea’s joint appearance at the Olympics. On Friday, Pence said there was “no daylight” between the allies in pushing for denuclearization of the peninsula.
Leaders of the two nations have only meet twice since the peninsula was divided in 1948. They are technically still at war.
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The last summit was held in October 2007 between Roh Moo-hyun and Kim Jong Il, the father of the current North Korean leader. The pair signed a peace declaration calling to end the armistice with a permanent treaty, but progress stalled and the two sides remain in a stalemate.
The first summit was in June 2000 between Kim Dae-jung, a proponent of the so-called Sunshine Policy, and Kim Jong Il. This led to family reunions until ties soured under conservative President Lee Myung-bak.
Saturday’s lunch at the Blue House, as Moon’s presidential compound is known in Korea, came shortly after Moon and Kim Jong Un’s sister enthusiastically cheered on a unified Korean team as they walked around a stadium in Pyeongchang.
Moon shakes hand of Kim’s sister as Games open
Kim Yo Jong, who is representing her brother at the Games, shook hands with Moon and stood with a smile on her face as Korean athletes marched together under a joint flag. She’s the first family member of the Kim dynasty to set foot in the south.
Believed to be in her late 20s, Kim Yo Jong shares the same mother as the North Korean leader and is seen as controlling access to him. Analysts were expecting the sister to deliver a message to Moon, as any move toward a summit is likely to help maintain a temporary break in tensions on the peninsula after a year of missile and nuclear provocations. Bloomberg
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