World News

North and South Korea heads of state meet, shake hands

North and South Korea heads of state meet, shake hands

Early Friday morning, the opening ceremony for the 2018 Winter Olympics will take place in Pyeongchang, South Korea, where 92 nations and more than 2,500 athletes will compete in 102 events over the next two and a half weeks.

Kim Yong Nam, North Korea's nominal head of state, is scheduled to land in South Korea along with leader Kim Jong Un's younger sister, Kim Yo Jong, aboard her brother's private jet at around 0430 GMT, according to Seoul's Unification Ministry.

"The timing of these decisions just before the opening ceremony in Pyeongchang is good as it will reassure athletes and others that only Russian athletes, which have met strict anti-doping criteria will be participating in the Games".

An global investigation concluded it had been torpedoed by a North Korean submarine, a charge Pyongyang denies.

Protesters scuffled briefly with police and criticised President Moon, who is using the Olympics to re-engage with the North and pave the way for talks over the reclusive state's nuclear and missile programme. Pence announced on Wednesday the United States would seek to pass new sanctions against the isolated country.

The political intruded on the Games at several turns as South Korea put on a show for the world that's meant to display a new found desire to cooperate with rival North Korea along with Seoul's stunning rise from poverty and war to Asian powerhouse.

"President Moon and President Trump are completely aligned in their objective for a nuclear free Korean Peninsula", Pence said.

"By sending Kim Yo Jong, Kim Jong Un may be putting the final touches on this plan", the South's top-selling, conservative Chosun daily said in an editorial on Thursday.

At the Winter Olympics, both North and South Korea will march under one flag at the opening ceremony.

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Abe, whose decision to attend the Games angered some of his conservative backers, has said the agreement will not be altered "by even one millimetre".

Pence's personal guest at the games was to be Fred Warmbier, the father of Otto Warmbier, an American who died a year ago days after his release from captivity in North Korea.

"As we speak, an estimated 100,000 North Korean citizens labor in modern-day gulags", Pence said.

Tensions have been high on the peninsula since previous year when the North staged its sixth and most powerful nuclear blast and test-fired intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMS) capable of reaching the USA mainland.

"It is very disappointing that we're in the situation we're in today".

A second group of 15 lodged an application Wednesday seeking to force the International Olympic Committee to invite them to the Games.

At the same time, the vice president has deliberately left the door open to a possible encounter with North Korean officials expected to be in attendance.

The United States government is represented at the opening ceremony by the hawkish Vice-President Mike Pence, accompanied by Fred Warmbier, father of Otto Warmbier who died aged 22 after being detained in North Korea for a petty offence past year.


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