by WorldTribune Staff, February 25, 2018
Following Vice President Mike Pence’s lead from the opening ceremony, Ivanka Trump did not acknowledge the North Korean delegation at the closing ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics Sunday.
The body language is seen by some analysts as signalling Washington’s anger at Seoul’s appeasement moves blasted by South Korean protesters who denounced what had been considered a crowning achievement by South Korea as the “Pyongyang Games”.
The daughter of U.S. President Donald Trump kept “her eyes well away from the chief of the North Korean delegation, who sat only two seats away in a row directly behind her in a small VIP box,” according to a Yonhap news report.
The U.S. coolness contrasted with the warm greeting given Kim Yong-Chol, North Korea’s chief delegate to the closing ceremony, by South Korean President Moon Jae-In.
Gen. Kim, North Korea’s highly-decorated former military chief of intelligence is considered by analysts to be the mastermind of North Korea’s deadly naval attacks in 2010 including one on a South Korean warship, Cheonan, that left 46 South Korean sailors dead.
Ivanka Trump and Gen. Vincent Brooks, commander of U.S. forces in Korea, watched from the VIP box of the South Korean president.
Earlier Moon held a surprise meeting with the North Korean delegation, the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said.
The previously unannounced meeting with Kim, considered by analysts to be the mastermind of North Korea’s deadly naval attack in 2010 on a South Korean warship, Cheonan, that left 46 South Korean sailors dead, was held in PyeongChang, the host city of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, located some 180 kilometers east of Seoul.
The meeting came only hours after the eight-member North Korean delegation crossed the inter-Korean border to attend the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games.
Ivanka Trump sat next to South Korea’s First Lady Kim Jung-Sook, while seated behind her was Kim Yong-Chol.
During the opening ceremony in PyeongChang, Pence chose to ignore the North Korean delegation and sit during its national anthem.
Responding to critics of that choice, Pence said in address at CPAC on Feb. 22 that “The United States of America doesn’t stand with murderous dictatorships, we stand up to murderous dictatorships. We will keep standing strong until North Korea stops threatening our country, our allies or until they abandon their nuclear and ballistic missiles once and for all.”
A spokesman for the North’s Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee blasted Pence for calling Kim Jong-Un’s sister, Kim Yo-Jong, a “central pillar” of a vicious regime, saying the North will not hold a face-to-face meeting with Trump or Pence for 100 or even 200 years.
Meanwhile, South Korea’s Moon said that North Korea has “enough” willingness to hold talks with the United States.
“President Moon pointed out that U.S.-North Korea dialogue must be held at an early date even for an improvement in the South-North Korea relationship and the fundamental resolution of Korean Peninsula issues,” Moon’s spokesman Kim Eui-Kyeom said.
“The North Korean delegation too agreed that North Korea-U.S. relations must develop along with the South-North Korea relationship while noting (the North) has enough intention to hold North Korea-U.S. dialogue,” the spokesman said.
The U.S. State Department said in a Feb. 25 statement that nuclear disarmament must be the end goal of “any dialogue. We will see if Pyongyang’s message today, that it is willing to hold talks, represents the first steps.”
Washington imposed sanctions on Kim Yong-Chol in 2010 and 2015, and Seoul did the same in 2016. South Korea’s Unification Minister Cho Myoung-Gyon, however, said there were no restrictions on Kim Yong-Chol’s travel to the Olympics.