While President Trump and Vice President Pence proceed to use severe rhetoric when discussing relations with North Korea, the governments of the two Koreas are continuing to take diplomatic steps to ease tensions that have existed between them for decades.
The latest show of cooperation is a surprising invitation to the North Korean capital Pyongyang that leader Kim Jong-un offered to South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Al Jazeera reported Saturday that the North Korean delegation, currently attending the 2018 Winter Olympics being hosted by their southern neighbor, delivered the invitation letter to Moon “at a landmark high-level meeting at the presidential palace in Seoul.”
“Chairman Kim Jong Un’s envoy Kim Yo-jong delivered a letter expressing a willingness to improve relations,” a spokesman for the president said during a press conference. “She also delivered a message from Kim Jong-un that he is willing to meet President Moon Jae-in in the near future and that he hopes President Moon visits the North at a convenient time.”
Kim Yo-jong is the North Korean leader’s younger sister.
This is the latest of several moves toward possible reconciliation between the two nations. In January, South Korea’s decision to allow the North’s teams to compete in this year’s Olympic games in Pyeongchang was a historic step toward diplomacy. It led to the revival of a communication hotline that had gone unused for two years as officials negotiated the North’s participation.
On Friday, the Olympics opening ceremony began with athletes from the rivaling countries marching together under a flag representing the unification of North and South Korea; President Moon described the games as a “festival and celebration of peace.”
The U.S., on the other hand, led by Trump and Pence, isn’t making much of an effort to embrace all the recent attempts at diplomacy with North Korea. Pence and his wife, who also attended the Winter Games opening ceremony, were the only people in the VIP seating section to not stand and clap during the Korean unity demonstration. The vice president also opted not to attend a dinner where he was expected to sit with a member of the North Korean delegation.
Still, the United States has a huge influence on talks of how to handle the North’s threats of nuclear attacks.
“Moon is saying that although he is keen to reboot inter-Korean relations, the dialogue between the United States and the North is essential,” said the South Korean president’s spokesperson. “And he is encouraging both sides to come together.”
On Friday, Pence said the U.S. will be working to come up with a peaceful solution, but added that it will oppose talks between South and North Korea that don’t involve the North dismantling its nuclear program.
Image: Al Jazeera English