January 01, 2018
KIM Jong-un’s ‘olive branch’ to South Korea in a bid to participate in the upcoming PyeongChang Winter Olympics could be a plot to drive a wedge between Seoul and Washington, experts have warned.
Kim Jong-un’s ‘olive branch’ to South Korea is a PLOT to drive a WEDGE between US allies
Yesterday during his New Year’s speech Kim Jong-un revealed that North Korea was willing to open talks with South Korea and could send team to the Winter Olympics in February.
He said: "North Korea's participation in the Winter Games will be a good opportunity to showcase the national pride and we wish the Games will be a success. Officials from the two Koreas may urgently meet to discuss the possibility.”
However the despotic leader also made it clear that North Korea would not give up its nuclear and missile programmes, adding that a "nuclear button" is always placed on his desk in a veiled threat against the US and its allies.
South Korea said it welcomed Kim Jong-un’s offer but experts fear the dictator’s latest announcement could be a move to drive a wedge between Seoul and the US – the two allied nations are set to hold military drills in the Korea Peninsula in February.
Douglas Paal, a former senior US diplomat, said: “This speech pokes at the fissure that has lain below the surface in U.S.-South Korean relations, and seems designed to drive a wedge there.



"President Moon needs a successful Olympics and the US drive to increase pressure fits poorly with the Southern agenda."
Evans Revere, another former senior US diplomat who took part in unofficial talks with North Korean officials last year, said Pyongyang would likely try to extract concessions as a "price" for Olympics participation.
However, he added: “It's hard to imagine Seoul falling for this.”
South Korea and the US have so far remained allied in their pressure and isolation campaign of North Korea despite repeated calls from Kim Jong-un for Seoul to sever its with Washington in a bid for “peace”.
However, responding to Kim Jong-un’s offer a spokesman for the South Korean presidency said: "We have always stated our willingness to talk with North Korea anytime and anywhere if that would help restore inter-Korean relations and lead to peace on the Korean Peninsula
Lee Hee-beom, president of the PyeongChang Organising Committee, said it welcomed North Korean participation and would "discuss relevant matters with the South Korean government as well as the International Olympic Committee."
South Korean President Moon Jae-in has said North Korea's participation would ensure the safety of the Olympics and proposed last month that Seoul and Washington postpone large military drills that the North denounces as a rehearsal for war until after the Games.
Asked to comment on Kim's speech, US President Donald Trump said: "We'll see, we'll see," as he walked into a New Year's Eve celebration at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.
During his New Year’s address Kim Jong-un said: "When it comes to North-South relations, we should lower the military tensions on the Korean Peninsula to create a peaceful environment. Both the North and the South should make efforts.
"This year marks the 70th anniversary of the North Korean regime's establishment, and the South will host the Winter Games. This year holds significance for the two Koreas.”
The dictator also declared that North Korea had reached full nuclear force in 2017 as issued a chilling warning to the US.
He said: “We achieved the goal of completing our state nuclear force in 2017.
"The entire United States is within range of our nuclear weapons, and a nuclear button is always on my desk. This is reality, not a threat."
Some experts also believe that Kim Jong-un will use the PyeongChang Olympics as ploy to force South Korea to lift sanctions on North Kore.
Mr Revere added Kim's speech contained the strongest defence yet of North Korea's status as a permanently nuclear-armed country.
He added: ”Implicit in Kim Jong-un’s speech is a willingness to engage with others, including the United States, on the basis of their acceptance of the 'reality' of North Korea's permanent nuclear status. That's not a basis on which the United States is prepared to engage.”
South Korean President Moon took office last May pledging to engage Pyongyang in dialogue. But North Korea snubbed his overtures, including an offer to hold inter-Korean military talks about ceasing hostile activities along the border, as it tested missiles at an unprecedented pace.
Kim said that rather than encouraging US measures that "threaten the security and peace of the Korean peninsula," Seoul should instead respond to overtures from the North, and "stop nuclear war exercises with foreign forces."
Harry Kazianis, director of defence studies at Washington's conservative Center for the National Interest, said that if North Korea did participate in the Olympics, there could be a lull in tensions, but only a brief one.
He said: “As we move into the spring, Pyongyang will once again test all different types of missiles and weapons.”
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