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Ivanka Trump to focus on Olympics during trip to S. Korea

Ivanka Trump to focus on Olympics during trip to S. Korea

Posted February. 23, 2018 07:53,   

Updated February. 23, 2018 07:53


The U.S. White House disclosed the schedule of President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump, a senior White House adviser, during her visit to South Korea, drawing a clear line between the trip and the North Korean nuclear issue. She will lead a U.S. delegation to the closing ceremony of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. Despite a speedy thaw in the inter-Korean relations, the White House seems to want to control the speed.

A senior White House official told a news briefing that Ivanka will visit South Korea on Saturday to cheer the U.S. athletes, reaffirm the alliance with South Korea, and celebrate the successful Olympics. She is scheduled to return home on Monday, after attending the Olympics closing ceremony on the previous day.

She is expected to meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at least two times. President Moon will host a banquet for her at his presidential residence in Seoul on the first day of her trip. The two will also attend the Olympics closing ceremony in Pyeongchang on Sunday. A Seoul official said they could meet more, as it is possible for the president to visit Pyeongchang before the closing ceremony. South Korean First Lady Kim Jung-sook, who is deeply interested in women’s issues, could meet on separate occasions. Moon met four times with Kim Yo Jong, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s sister who led the high-level North Korean delegation to the Olympics.

Unlike U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, who sent a hardline message to North Korea by meeting with North Korean refugees and touring the wreckage of a South Korean naval vessel Cheonan which was destroyed by a North Korean attack in 2010, Ivanka is expected to minimize her North Korea-related activities. A White House official denied the possibility of her meeting with North Korean refugees. A diplomatic source in Washington also said that she would focus only on the Olympics.

Some in the diplomatic community view Ivanka’s schedule as an agreement by the White House and the South Korean presidential office Cheong Wa Dae to take a cautious approach after the planned meeting between Pence and Kim Yo Jong was canceled at the last minute before the opening of the Olympics. In addition, the two presidential offices appear to have decided that there is no need to take actions for dialogue with North Korea, as U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said he is waiting for the North to say it is ready for talks. He wants Pyongyang to initiative efforts for dialogue because it was the North that called off the North Korea-U.S. dialogue.

Sang-Jun Han alwaysj@donga.com · Jeong-Hun Park sunshade@donga.com