Seoul, Feb 10 (IANS) In a historic move, South Korean President Moon Jae-in welcomed senior North Korean officials, including leader Kim Jong-un’s sister Kim Yo-jong, to the presidential palace for a lunch meeting on Saturday.
The meeting is the most significant diplomatic encounter between the two sides in more than a generation, CNN said.
The younger Kim’s trip to the South marks the first time that a member of the North’s ruling dynasty has visited since the Korean war, which ended in an armistice in 1953.
The lunch meeting at the Blue House, which was broadcast live on South Korean TV, showed Moon sat in front of Kim Yo-jong, rather than Kim Yong-nam, technically the senior-most official present in the meeting being the ceremonial head of state.
Such a high-level meeting would have been unthinkable even a few months ago, but 2018 has seen an accelerated rapprochement between the two adversaries in the run up to the PyeongChang Games, the CNN report said.
Moon has expressed his intention to use the Winter Olympics as a chance to make diplomatic inroads with the North and restore normalcy, following months of high tensions on the Peninsula.
Saturday’s meeting follows a brief encounter between the two parties at the opening ceremony on Friday, in which Moon twice shook hands with Kim Yo-jong.
“You must have had a hard time (on Friday) due to the cold weather,” Moon made small talks with Yo, as he received her on Saturday. “It was okay because you were kind enough to care,” she replied, according to reports.
Saturday’s meeting also involved two other high-level delegates — Choe Hwi, the chairman of the National Sports Guidance Committee, and Ri Son-gwon, the head of the North’s state agency in charge of inter-Korean affairs.