The US has welcomed North Korea’s decision to participate in next month’s Winter Olympics in South Korea, saying this is an opportunity for Pyongyang to see the value of ending its international isolation by denuclearising.
North Korea on Tuesday decided to send athletes and cheerleaders to Winter Olympics in South Korea after the two countries held their first official talks in more than two years.
The breakthrough came after months of rising tensions over North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme.
“The North Korean participation is an opportunity for the regime to see the value of ending its international isolation by denuclearising. We hope that we can continue to move forward on that front, but certainly doesn’t affect our participation,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters at her daily press conference.
Denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula is the number-one priority of the Trump administration, she said.
“We are in very close contacts with our South Korean allies about these conversations,” she said,
Welcoming the January 9 talks between North and South Korea, the State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said the US was committed to a safe and successful Winter Olympic Games and would send a high-level presidential delegation to the event.
North Korea last year increased the pace of its missile programme. Since February, Pyongyang has fired off 23 missiles. On November 29, the North Korean leader said that his country had achieved full nuclear statehood after what he said was the successful test of a new missile capable of striking anywhere in the United States.
Fears of a catastrophic conflict between the US and North Korea spiked as the leaders of the two nations taunted each other, with President Donald Trump calling North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ‘Rocket Man’.
The US and its allies, including Japan and South Korea, have put increasing economic pressure on North Korea in an attempt to halt the reclusive regime’s nuclear and missile development.