China welcomes post-Olympic peace mission as S.Korean delegation visits Pyongyang

By Bai Tiantian Source:Global Times Published: 2018/3/5 23:13:40

Chinese foreign ministry welcomes post-Olympic peace mission

A South Korean delegation met the North's leader at Pyongyang on Monday on a two-day visit to improve ties between the Koreas using the momentum of Olympic rapprochement.

Analysts said the delegation's other goal, which is to bring North Korea and the US together for talks, remains improbable as neither Washington nor Pyongyang have shown any willingness to budge on the nuclear issue.

The 10-member delegation is led by Chung Eui-yong, chief of the presidential National Security Office. The delegation also includes Suh Hoon, chief of South Korea's spy agency, and Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung, the Yonhap News Agency reported on Monday.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un received the delegation Monday afternoon and the two sides had dinner together, China Central Television reported.

The visit was set to deliver South Korean President Moon Jae-in's wish to bring about denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and permanent peace by extending the goodwill and better inter-Korean relations created by the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, Chung said at the presidential Blue House before he left, Reuters reported.

The delegation hopes to speak to North Korean officials on starting dialogue between the North and the US as well as other countries, he added.

"The visit itself is a positive sign in improving ties between Seoul and Pyongyang. However, the US has shown only limited support for contact between North Korea and South Korea, and neither the US nor North Korea is willing to budge on the nuclear issue, which is at the core of any talks," Lü Chao, a research fellow at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Monday.

The US attitude will limit progress toward peace on the peninsula, Lü said.

"Under the amicable momentum of the Winter Olympics, the South Korean delegation may serve as a messenger to test the waters of where Pyongyang actually stands on a potential talk with the US and convey that information back to Washington. It's only the first step of a very long journey to achieve US-North Korea talks," he said.

The Chinese foreign ministry said Monday that China considers it a good thing for South Korea to dispatch a delegation to North Korea and that China hopes the visit can achieve positive results.

"We hope relevant parties can extend the dialogue brought by the Winter Olympic Games and broaden the interaction between the two Koreas to include interaction between North Korea and the US," said foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang on Monday.

Da Zhigang, director of the Institute of Northeast Asian Studies at the Heilongjiang Provincial Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Monday that President Moon Jae-in is very much pushing for the US-North Korea talks on his own.

"Washington is not pleased with the rapprochement at this specific point of time, believing South Korea's move may jeopardize the effectiveness of the UN Security Council resolutions and leave a loophole for Pyongyang to exploit," Da said.

Newspaper headline: South Korean delegation visits Pyongyang

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