Ivanka Trump has told South Korea’s president that she will use her visit to the Winter Olympics to call for maximum pressure on North Korea to halt its nuclear programme.
The daughter of US president Donald Trump is leading the US delegation at this weekend’s closing ceremony for the Pyeongchang Games.
South Korean leader Moon Jae-in, however, highlighted at a banquet at the presidential compound how the Olympics have served as a vehicle for dialogue between the two Koreas.
The banquet’s start was delayed by about half an hour as Mr Moon and Ms Trump held a private meeting.
Ms Trump said she was in South Korea to celebrate the Olympics and to reaffirm the US commitment to a “maximum pressure campaign to ensure that the Korean Peninsula is denuclearised”.
A high-level North Korean delegation will also attend the closing ceremony, but the South Korean government said it is unlikely that Ms Trump will meet the North Koreans.
US vice president Mike Pence, who attended the Olympics’ opening ceremony, sat awkwardly in a VIP box with the younger sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un behind him. The two had no apparent contact.
South Korean media said Mr Moon would emphasise the importance of holding US-North Korea talks in the meeting with Ms Trump.
Mr Moon hopes to make the Olympics an avenue for peace on the divided Korean Peninsula.
“North Korea’s participation in the Winter Olympic Games has served as an opportunity for us to engage in active discussions between the two Koreas and this has led to lowering of tensions on the peninsula and an improvement in inter-Korean relations,” the South Korean presisdent said.
Mr Moon met Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and Kim Yong Nam, North Korea’s nominal head of state, a day after the opening ceremony and urged North Korea to do more to engage in a dialogue with the United States.
While the Games appear to have paved the way for possible rapprochement between the Koreas, US and North Korean officials have yet to make direct contact. Earlier this week, the US government said Pence had been set to meet North Korean officials during his visit to South Korea, but that the North Korean side cancelled at the last minute.
For now, there are no signs that Ivanka Trump will meet Kim Yong Chol, vice chairman of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party Central Committee, who is scheduled to attend the closing ceremony.
The White House has emphasised that the purpose of her visit is to celebrate the achievements of the athletes, noting that she is a winter sports enthusiast herself. She is expected to attend the games on Saturday before Sunday’s closing ceremony.