White House: Talks with North Korea must lead to ending nuclear program

Power lines for the shuttered joint industrial complex in North Korea's border city of Kaesong are seen from across the Imjin River which runs across the inter Korean border in the South Korean city of Paju north of Seoul on Jan. 4 2018. (Yonhap

South Korean President Moon Jae-in held a meeting with North Korea's chief delegate to the closing ceremony of the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games on Sunday, the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said.

North Korea denounced the sanctions in a statement carried on its state media and said a blockade by the United States would be considered an act of war.

"As President Trump has said, there is a brighter path available for North Korea if it chooses denuclearization". The administration's position is that North Korea must make a clear commitment to eliminating its nuclear and missile programs before any talks can take place.

Hundreds of protesters rallied outside the Olympic Stadium, holding signs like "Killer Kim Yong Chol go to hell", while Kim attended Sunday's closing ceremony with President Moon and USA presidential adviser Ivanka Trump.

Pyongyang mounted a charm offensive during the Games, sending athletes, cheerleaders and performers. Leader Kim Jong Un's sister Kim Yo Jong attended the opening ceremony.

Seoul blames the North for the sinking of the Cheonan - widely believed in the South to have been ordered by Kim Yong Chol - although Pyongyang denies responsibility.

Sanders said President Trump remains committed to achieving the "complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization" of the peninsula and that his "maximum pressure campaign" against North Korea must continue until it abandons its nuclear and missile programs.

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But the North Koreans pulled out at the last minute, according to Washington.

Kim Yong Chol, a vice chairman of the North's ruling Workers' Party, expressed that willingness when he met with Moon shortly before the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Moon's office said.

Hundreds of conservative lawmakers and their supporters also held a separate protest in Seoul, waving banners saying "Arrest Kim Yong Chol!" among other slogans.

She met Moon on Friday as part of a weekend trip leading the US delegation to the closing ceremony.

Kim Yo Jong had no interaction with US Vice President Mike Pence at the opening ceremony just over two weeks ago, even though they were just a few seats apart.

South and North Korea held working-level talks Tuesday to discuss details of the North's participation in the Paralympics to be held in the South next month.

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