‘No interaction’ between Ivanka Trump, North Korean delegation, White House official says
Written by Leah Jones on February 26, 2018
Patrick Semansky/Pool/Getty Images(PYEONGCHANG, South Korea) — Ivanka Trump sat within an arm’s length of the North Korean delegation at the closing ceremonies of the Winter Olympic Games on Sunday, but there was no interaction between her and the Hermit Kingdom envoys, according to a senior Trump administration official.
The First Daughter and Gen. Vincent Brooks, commander of U.S. forces in Korea, watched the closing ceremonies from the VIP box of South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Ivanka Trump sat next to South Korea’s first lady Kim Jung-sook, while seated behind her was Gen. Kim Yong-chol, North Korea’s former military chief of intelligence.
During the closing ceremony, Ivanka Trump and the U.S. delegation congratulated Moon and the first lady on “an incredible Olympic Games and applauded throughout the ceremonies, including for the U.S. and South Korean athletes,” the administration official said in a statement.
Also part of the U.S. delegation was Allison Hooker, a National Security Council adviser for Korean issues.
“There was no interaction with the North Korean delegation,” the official said.
The White House official added that the “U.S. presidential delegation’s attendance at the closing ceremonies was the culmination of a successful trip where we celebrated the Olympic Games, U.S. athletes and our strong alliance with South Korea.”
The interaction between President Trump’s daughter and Gen. Kim, who headed an eight-member North Korean delegation, was similar to the cold-shoulder encounter between Vice President Mike Pence and the sister of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un during the opening ceremonies in Pyeongchang.
“The United States of America doesn’t stand with murderous dictatorships; we stand up to murderous dictatorships,” Pence said in a speech Thursday at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland. “We will keep standing strong until North Korea stops threatening our country, our allies — or until they abandon their nuclear and ballistic missiles once and for all.”
The stalemate between Ivanka Trump and the North Korean delegates played out before a global audience watching the closing ceremonies just three days after President Trump announced the “largest ever” sanctions against North Korea aimed at disrupting North Korean shipping and trading companies.
Just before the Olympic closing ceremonies, Moon’s office issued a statement confirming the South Korean president met with Gen. Kim, who expressed North Korea’s “willingness” to open talks with the United States.
Meanwhile, the closing ceremonies emphasized the “human spirit of perseverance” and capped the 23rd Olympic Winter Games with a combination of music, dance, art and a spectacular fireworks display against the backdrop of Pyeongchang’s snow-capped mountains.
Athletes who participated in the Games marched into the Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium waved the flags of their countries. South and North Korean athletes marched together, as they did in the opening ceremony.
“The Olympic Winter Games at Pyeongchang has come to an end, but the time of peace will continue,” Korean President Moon said in his closing remarks.
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