South Korea said Saturday North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has invited South Korean President Moon Jae-in for a summit meeting in the North. Moon’s spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom said Kim’s sister verbally delivered his offer in a lunch meeting with Moon at Seoul’s presidential palace.
The spokesman said Moon replied that the North and South should continue to work to build conditions so that a summit can take place.
The spokesman said Moon also called for a quick resumption of dialogue between the United States and North Korea.
CBS News correspondent Ben Tracy reported Friday it was a “historic moment” when Kim Yo Jong and Moon shook hands.
Moon’s office said Kim’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, came to the South as his special envoy.
Tracy said her influence in the regime is so significant, South Korean media call her the North’s Ivanka Trump. Her presence is the latest move in an extraordinary show of Olympic diplomacy with Seoul that could prove to be a major challenge to the Trump administration’s hard-line Korea policies.
Any meeting would represent a diplomatic coup for Moon, who swept to power last year on a policy of engaging more with the reclusive North.
During the Olympics’ Opening Ceremony,Vice President Mike Pence sat just feet away from Kim Yo Jong, and the country’s 90-year-old nominal head of state, Kim Yong Nam. The North Korean delegation sat a row behind Pence. A White House official said they did not interact.
Moon’s desire to engage North Korea was in contrast to his U.S. ally.
North and South Korea are technically still at war after their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce rather than a peace treaty. The United States fought with South Korea and maintains tens of thousands of troops and an “ironclad” agreement to protect its ally.
However some North Korean experts believe tough U.N. sanctions that are cutting off most of the isolated North’s sources of revenue have added pressure on Pyongyang to engage further with Seoul.
For his part, Mike Pence said the United States and South Korea were closely aligned in their approach to dealing with North Korea.