The South Korean president's office says a North Korean delegate to the Olympics has said Pyongyang is willing to hold talks with the US, reports the AP. The Blue House, South Korea's presidential office, reported the news during the games' closing ceremony. The North has "ample intentions of holding talks with the United States," and also agreed that "South-North relations and US-North Korean relations should be improved together," Moon's office said. The BBC notes that the timing is odd, given that Washington announced a new round of sanctions against Pyongyang on Friday, which the Hermit Kingdom denounced as an "act of war." In recent months the war of words between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Trump has escalated as the North tests nuclear missiles and Washington pushes it to disarm.
Trump's daughter, Ivanka, is at the closing ceremony and sitting in the same box with Kim Yong Chol, vice chairman of North Korea's ruling Worker's Party Central Committee. They did not appear to interact when South Korean President Moon Jae-in shook hands with dignitaries at the beginning of the ceremony. If they communicated, it would represent unusual direct contact between the White House and the upper echelons of North Korea's government. Ivanka Trump has spent the past two days attending events and meeting athletes. Athletes will march, the popular K-pop band EXO will perform, and Pyeongchang officials will officially hand over responsibility for the Winter Games to Beijing, which will host them in 2022.
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