United States envoy's retirement may hurt efforts to solve N. Korea crisis

Kyodo via Newscom

Kyodo via Newscom

The White House said "we will see" after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un indicated he may be willing to hold talks, while reaffirming the U.S. insistence on Pyongyang's "verifiable" denuclearization.

“We will see if Pyongyangs message today, that it is willing to hold talks, represents the first steps along the path to denuclearization, ” she said.

SEOUL, South Korea With a two-hour spectacle of drones and K-Pop on Sunday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in celebrated the end of a Winter Olympic Games that fostered a fragile peace with North Korea.

Outside Olympic Stadium, just before Sunday's closing ceremony, more than 200 anti-Pyongyang protesters waved South Korean and USA flags, banged drums and held signs saying "Killer Kim Yong Chol go to hell".

The U.S. president, in announcing the new sanctions on Friday, warned of a "phase two" that could be "very, very unfortunate for the world" if the sanctions did not work.

He's already successfully driven a wedge between the US and South Korea, whose people crave a rapprochement with the North. President Moon is extremely unlikely now to go along with a USA strike on the North's nuclear infrastructure - not as long as the "Spirit of the Olympics" can be milked by Kim. Kim told Moon that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un wanted to improve ties with Washington and had "ample intentions of holding talks", according to the South Korean president's office. Pence remained seated with his wife as the North and South Korean athletes entered the stadium under a unified flag.

Trump, who is leading the US delegation at the Closing Ceremony, is now on a four-day visit to South Korea.

Her applause draws stark contrast to vice president Mike Pence, who led the delegation during the Opening Ceremony.

The Trump administration previously stated that it was open to talk with North Korea without preconditions. Though Pence stood to cheer the entrance of the US team, he remained seated when the athletes from North and South Korea marched together behind a "unification" flag, leaving Moon to instinctively turn around and shake Kim's sister's hand. But key to any breakthrough is participation from the United States.

North Korea's representatives crossed the border on Sunday using a military road to attend the ceremony and to meet with South Korea's government.

On Tuesday, asked by a reporter whether the South Koreans discussed with the delegation continuing to delay joint military exercises, a senior staffer for Inhofe said "there was a conversation about that".

A North Korean diplomat said that the delegation had asked to reply to Kang's remarks, but under United Nations rules will only be allowed to do so when the council's high-level session ends on Wednesday and its general session begins.

"If tension on the Korean peninsula escalates into a brink of war due to the USA reckless actions, all the catastrophic consequences resulting therefrom will be borne by the United States", said the statement which was attributed to a Foreign Ministry spokesman. "What we're trying to do is cut down [North Korean leader Kim Jong Un]'s ability to do ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons".

Trump was derided for his supposed naivety on global affairs across the American political spectrum, while North Korea's state media praised him as "a very wise politician".

Japan apologized to the women and provided a 1 billion yen ($9.4 million) fund to help them under a 2015 deal with Moon's conservative predecessor, but South Korea has recently sought to revisit the issue.

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