White House gives North Korea 'ultimatum' for having talks

Glen Norman
March 2, 2018

There was worry in Washington and Tokyo over President Moon's invitation to the North to attend the games in Pyeongchang and start inter-Korea talks, amid claims that Kim Jong-un was trying to drive a wedge between the South and the United States and Japan.

In a wide-ranging interview, Mnuchin also highlighted the administration's stance on North Korea, saying the Trump White House has more authority to issue sanctions than that of any previous president, and that sanctions should not take decades to achieve desired outcomes.

"In the meantime, the USA and the world must continue to make clear that North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes are a dead end".

North Korea may have drawn a blank at the Winter Olympics in the South Korean city of Pyeongchang but its diplomatic skills are worthy of a gold medal, although the Games-driven detente could be short-lived.

Yun, a former US ambassador to Malaysia, has been the State Department's point man for its limited contact with the North Korean government through a back channel at the USA diplomatic mission to the United Nations in NY.

North Korea sent a controversial senior general, Kim Yong-chol, to the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games on Sunday. He also drew criticism for ignoring Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who was seated just one row behind him at the Opening Ceremony.

The sight of North and South Korean hockey players hugging and tearing up after the unified team's final match touched many fans, despite initial opposition in the South to the formation of the team.

US President Donald Trump said in a press briefing Friday that if the sanctions didn't work, the country would have to go to "phase two", although he didn't specify what that would be.

Trump has vowed to use force if necessary to prevent North Korea from acquiring a nuclear-tipped missile that could strike the US mainland.

When travelling to South Korea on Sunday for a three-day visit, Mr Kim and his delegation took a detour to avoid a sit-in protest by opposition lawmakers, who demanded accountability for his alleged role in the Cheonan sinking.

The decision to have Ivanka lead the United States hasn't been welcomed by all, though.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in, left, and International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach walked into a viewing suite at the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics. "North Korean relations should be improved together", the statement said. "It's important the United States and North Korea sit down together quickly", he added.

Joseph Yun, the top USA diplomat in charge of North Korean policy, announced his surprise retirement on Tuesday. The Trump administration has called for an overhaul of the Dodd-Frank regulations passed in the wake of the crisis, and Mnuchin said new legislation would focus on the role of smaller banks in the economy.

While the air was distinctly chilly when Pence was in South Korea - he later said he had intentionally ignored Kim Yo Jong - he has hinted at possible progress. She said North Korea has a bright path ahead of it if it chooses denuclearization.

The U.S government has blacklisted 56 vessels, shipping companies and other entities to diminish North Korea from growing less sensitive to the U.S sanctions.

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