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North Korea Expresses Willingness To Talk With United States

President Moon Jae-In of South Korea announced on Sunday that North Korea is willing to start talks with the United States. President Moon had met with an eight-member North Korean delegation, three hours before the start of the Closing Ceremony of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

Credit: Getty Images via CNN

Credit: Getty Images via CNN

Among the members of the North Korean delegation was high ranking officials Kim Yong Chol, the vice chairman of North Korea’s Workers’ Party, and Ri Son Kwon, chairman of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland.

Mr. Moon and the North Korean delegation met for an hour at an undisclosed location in PyeongChang. There have been considerable efforts by the Moon administration to ease tensions and start dialogues between the United States and North Korea since the beginning of the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics.

Mr. Moon’s spokesman, Kim Eui-Kyeom said that “President Moon noted that North Korea-United States dialogue must take place in order to improve South-North Korean relations and to find a fundamental solution to the Korean peninsula issue.”

Moon’s announcement of North Korea’s intentions comes in light of a new round of sanctions imposed by Washington on Friday. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced a new raft of sanctions against 27 entities and 28 vessels from countries including North Korea, China and Singapore.

The United States has made its intentions for North Korea clear since the beginning of the PyeongChang Olympics.

Credit: Doug Mills / New York Times

Credit: Doug Mills / New York Times

After a blatant attempt to ignore Kim Jong Un’s sister and North Korean delegation at the Opening Ceremony of the PyeongChang Olympics, Pence stated that “no pressure comes off until they are actually doing something that the alliance believes represents a meaningful step towards denuclearization.”

In addition, Trump re-emphasized on Friday how Washington would not back down on the denuclearization of North Korea and how “If the sanctions don’t work, we’ll have to go to Phase 2. Phase 2 may be a very rough thing- may be very, very unfortunate for the world.”

North Korea responded to Trump’s comments by countering that “if the United States has indeed the guts to confront us in a ‘rough’ manner, we will not necessarily take the trouble to stop it.”

Yet, despite the adamant hard-lining response towards North Korea’s denuclearization, there has been a slight change since the South-North meeting on Sunday.

President Trump sent his daughter, Ivanka Trump, to lead the American delegation to the closing ceremony of the Games. Ms. Trump’s attendance is seen as Mr. Trump’s attempt to project soft power and match Kim Jong Un’s attempt to send his sister, Kim Yo-Jung, to the opening ceremony.