Jim Mattis: ′Too early′ to tell if Olympics can reduce tensions between Koreas | News | DW | 11.02.2018
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Jim Mattis: 'Too early' to tell if Olympics can reduce tensions between Koreas

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has said it remains to be seen whether overtures between South and North Korea during the Olympics would provide results. North Korea offered to host the South for talks in Pyongyang.

A slight warming of relations between North and South Korea during the Winter Olympics might not be enough to lead to peace on the peninsula, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Sunday.

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North Korea invites South Korean president to Pyongyang

"It is too early to say if ... using the Olympics in a way to reduce tensions, if that is going to have any traction once the Olympics are over, we can't say right now," Mattis told reporters.

Read moreSouth Korea investigates cyberincident at Pyeongchang Olympics ceremony

Mattis questioned North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's intentions, specifically pointing to his decision to hold a military parade before the games.

"In the midst of all this, he ran a military parade that highlighted his ballistic missiles. That is a very strange time, if in fact he is trying to show a warming," the US defense chief said.

Others have voiced concerns that the North is attempting to use the Olympics to flout international sanctions, including bringing its 100-member-strong art troupe in by sea — causing the South to treat the ferry as an exemption to maritime sanctions.

Read moreIn Seoul, Germany's Steinmeier warns Koreas that reunification needed luck, and hard work

South Korean President Moon Jae-in shakes hands with North Korea's Kim Yo Jong (picture-alliance/AP Photo/K. Ju-sung)

Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, invited South Korean President Moon Jae-in for a summit in Pyongyang

North invites South for talks

His comments followed the news that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's sister invited South Korean President Moon Jae-in to visit the North's capital Pyongyang.

Kim Yo Jong, the 30-year-old sister of the North Korean leader, said her brother hoped to host a summit with the South in an attempt to improve ties following a prolonged period of animosity.

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Moon has not yet accepted the invitation, but he has been pushing for a diplomatic solution to the standoff over North Korea's missile and nuclear program.

US President Donald Trump's administration, on the other hand, has pursued a strategy of using harsh rhetoric and pushing through tough sanctions. Washington has also said that the North must first give up its nuclear program before any dialogue can occur.

Read moreNorth Korea welcomed to Olympic Village with national anthem

Mattis said that the diplomatic gestures between the two Koreas at the Olympics have not caused a rift between Washington and Seoul.

"On a political level in Seoul, there is no wedge that can be driven between us by North Korea," Mattis said

Should Moon take up Kim Jong Un's offer for a summit, it would be the first one to take place between the leaders of the two countries since 2007.

rs/jm (AP, Reuters)

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