SEOUL: US President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka will come face-to-face with a top North Korean general at the Winter Olympics closing ceremony in the South this weekend, it emerged Thursday.
The Pyeongchang Games have become a venue for geopolitics as much as sports as the nuclear-armed North mounts a charm offensive analysts say is intended to loosen the sanctions regime against it and weaken the alliance between Seoul and Washington.
Leader Kim Jong Un dispatched his sister Kim Yo Jong to the opening ceremony – which US Vice President Mike Pence also attended – and during her visit she extended an invitation to South Korean President Moon Jae-in to come to a summit in Pyongyang.
The family connections will be reversed at the closing ceremony.
The White House said Donald Trump had asked his eldest daughter – who is also one of his top advisers – to travel to Pyeongchang to lead up a “high level delegation.”
The 36-year-old businesswoman and former will be joined by press secretary Sarah Sanders and is going in part because “she is something of a winter sports enthusiast,” an official said.
The North will send an eight-member delegation headed by Kim Yong Chol, a top general who oversees inter-Korean relations for the ruling Workers’ Party, Seoul’s unification ministry said in a statement.
Kim Yong Chol’s presence is a demonstration of how Pyongyang is testing the limits of the multiple different sanctions imposed on it over its banned nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes.