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North Korea heading for diplomacy gold medal at Olympics

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (Reuters) - North Korea has emerged as the early favorite to grab one of the vital wintry weather Olympics' most important medals: the diplomatic gold.
it's the evaluation of a former South Korean govt minister and political specialists who say the North has used the games to power a wedge between South Korea and its U.S. ally and to probably ease pressure on its sanctions-crippled state.

in barely a month given that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un surprised the world and noted his nation became able to join the video games, South Korean President Moon Jae-in has delayed armed forces workouts, feted Kim's sister at the Pyeongchang Olympics and given conditional consent to a bilateral summit in the North.

"North Korea evidently looks to be winning the gold," referred to Kim Sung-han, who served as Korea's vice international minister in 2012-2013 and who now teaches at Seoul's Korea university.
"Its delegation and at hletes are getting all the spotlight, and Kim Jong Un's sister is displaying dependent smiles before the South Korean public and the area. Even for a second, it looks to be a standard state."

U.S. vice president Mike Pence, who attended Friday's opening ceremony together with the North Koreans, spoke of "no daylight" existed between the united states, South Korea and Japan on the deserve to isolate North Korea.

He said the North became the use of the video games for crude propaganda.
A U.S. legit, speakme on situation of anonymity, talked about greater critical would be how Pyongyang behaves after the Olympics. It has proven no interest to date in negotiating over international calls for to quit its nuclear and missile courses.

Pence solid one of the most loneliest figures at the opening event. He remained seated when the joint Korean crew entered the stadium, in distinction to Moon who stood along with Kim Jong Un's more youthful sister, Kim Yo Jong, to applaud.

NIGHTMARE FOR JAPAN?

the nice and cozy North-South physique language now not most effective fanned talk of a split between Seoul and Washington, it contrasted with a chilly encounter between South Korea and Japan, an ally in U.S.-led efforts to power North Korea to end its nuclear application.

eastern leading Minister Shinzo Abe, who regarded uncomfortable now and then all the way through the outlet ceremony, annoyed his hosts with the aid of telling the South Korean chief that joint South Korea-U.S. defense force drills should still be at once resumed after the video games.

To pave the style for the North's participation at Pyeongchang, South Korea had delayed the annual workout routines with U.S. forces, which continually take region between February and March, until after the Olympics.

"Now is not the time to delay U.S.-South Korea militia exercises. it's important to circulate forward with the drills as deliberate," Abe ref erred to, in accordance with South's presidential Blue house. Moon responded that it turned into no longer acceptable for Abe to have raised the concern, which he described as an inside affair.

Japan does not participate in the armed forces workouts, but it surely is within sight of North Korean missiles and relies closely on U.S. forces and their readiness to deal with that risk.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in shakes fingers with Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un, in Seoul, South Korea during this undated photograph launched with the aid of North Korea's Korean primary information agency (KCNA) February 10, 2018. KCNA/by way of REUTERS

"This construction might have been predicted, however for Japan it's a nightmare state of affairs," stated Takashi Kawakami, a professor of overseas politics at Takushoku tuition in Tokyo.
"North Korea is skillfully using a wedge between the U.S., Japan and South Korea."

A senior ea stern defense legitimate spoke of North Korea's video games allure offensive may "with no trouble be a way to gain time" unless it completed its nuclear and ballistic missile construction.
In Rome on Sunday, U.S. protection Secretary Jim Mattis mentioned it turned into too early to inform no matter if decreased tensions between the two Koreas would ultimate beyond the Olympics but that "on a political stage in Seoul, there isn't any wedge that can be pushed between us via North Korea."
Douglas Paal, a former senior U.S. diplomat beneath previous Republican administrations, pointed out North Korea held the propaganda part for now as a result of, "It's complicated not to get caught up within the feelings of an Olympics event." but he pointed out it might be tougher for Moon to sustain momentum after U.S. and eastern allies and South Korean conservatives remind him of what is at stake in the North Korean nuclear danger.

SANCTIONS BITING?

North Korea is below a heavy U.N. sanctions regime which turned into at first focused at stopping the proliferation of hands and nuclear and missile technologies, but has develop into greater all-encompassing after its accelerated missile testing.

After years of ineffective implementation, those sanctions may also have begun to at last chew, which, in line with a jap govt reliable and consultants, helps explain why Kim Jong Un agreed to ship a national team and his sister to the Olympics.
A foreign resident residing in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, told Reuters he had seen fewer individuals in restaurants and luxury goods in shops in recent months.

fuel costs have risen and greater wood-fired Soviet-period vehicles had been considered on the outskirts of the capital, mentioned the resident, speakme on circumstance of anonymity. Seafood, as soon as an immense North Korean export, became now extra generally accessible at home after U.N. sanctions banned these exports in August.

When a ferry carrying North Koreans to the games docked in South Korea final week, the North asked its hosts for the gas vital to get it domestic, Seoul's Unification Ministry spoke of. The North then withdrew its request after it requested for more fuel than Seoul become inclined to give, a Seoul legit added.

In Pyeongchang, although, the two Koreas prevented talk of sanctions and basked in its place in Olympic goodwill, which became nowhere greater evident than on Saturday night when a joint Korean women's ice hockey group took to the ice.

It impressed an American member of the overseas Olympic Committee to call for the team, which covered 12 North Korean gamers, to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
In Pyongyang, North Korea's reputable Rodong Sinmun newspaper also mentioned on the games bonhomie, publishing photos of its ceremonial head of state clinking glasses with Moon and of the South's leader additionally shaking hands wit h a telegenic Kim Yo Jong.

"The americans I spoke to in Pyongyang were in fact excited about the joint crew," mentioned Michael Spavor of the Paektu Cultural exchange, an organization which took a gaggle of holiday makers to Pyongyang last week.

"They felt it had made this stressful situation on the peninsula relax a little bit."
additional reporting by means of Idrees Ali in Rome, Matt Spetalnick and David Brunnstrom in Washington, Linda Sieg, Kaori Kaneko and Nobuhiro Kubo in Tokyo; modifying with the aid of Mark Bendeich and Alistair Bell


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