Washington on Tuesday said it welcomes recent talks between North and South Korea regarding the DPRK’s participation at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics next month, though warned it would make sure the North’s attendance did not breach UN sanctions.
The U.S. Department of State issued a brief press release adding that the U.S. will be sending a high-level delegation to the games.
“The United States welcomes the January 9, meeting between the Republic of Korea and North Korea aimed at ensuring a safe, secure, and successful Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang,” the press release reads.
“The United States remains in close consultations with ROK officials, who will ensure North Korean participation in the Winter Olympics does not violate the sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council over North Korea’s unlawful nuclear and ballistic missile programs.”
But the statement did not elaborate which UN measures might be broken by the DPRK’s participation. While UN resolutions do include some provisions on transferring sporting equipment to North Korea, the restrictions likely affect larger scale imports.
“It is unclear, but I would guess South Korea will pay for the North Korea delegates and would need to clarify the money does not benefit North Korea’s weapons programs or violate the resolutions since the payments would likely go to the North Korean government,” Anthony Ruggiero, a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, told NK News.
President Donald Trump and South Korean Prime Minister Moon Jae-in had agreed to continue the “maximum pressure” campaign on North Korea on January 4, the statement added, and the State Department did not comment on the news that the two Koreas had also agreed to hold high-level military talks.
The U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley took a firmer stance on the then-upcoming discussions last week, saying Washington had little interest in talks that did not involve the North’s nuclear and missile programs.
“We won’t take any of the talks seriously if they don’t do something to ban all nuclear weapons in North Korea,” Haley said at a UN press conference.
“We don’t think we need a Band-Aid, and we don’t think we need to smile and take a picture. We think that we need to have them stop nuclear weapons, and they need to stop it now.”
The discussions between Pyongyang and Seoul were also welcomed by both China and Russia on Tuesday, while the UN Secretary-General also praised the progress made at the talks.
“The re-establishment and strengthening of such channels is critical to lowering the risk of miscalculation or misunderstanding and to reduce tensions in the region,” Stéphane Dujarric, a spokesperson for the Secretary-General, said in a statement issued on Tuesday.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
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Featured Image: Washington DC, sunrise and snow by Lorie Shaull on 2014-01-22 08:29:16