SEOUL: Ivanka Trump arrived to a red-carpet welcome in South Korea on Friday to attend this weekend’s closing ceremony for the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
The visit is her first since her father Donald Trump became U.S. president. Her arrival at the airport was broadcast live on TV, and she was to have dinner with President Moon Jae-in in the presidential compound, according to South Korean media.
A North Korean delegation will also attend the closing ceremony, but the South Korean government said it’s unlikely that Ivanka Trump will meet the North Koreans or defectors from North Korea. Speculation is high in South Korea that she might deliver a message from President Trump on North Korea.
She told media at the airport that she is “very, very excited to attend the 2018 Winter Olympic Games (and) cheer for team USA.”
South Korean media said Moon would emphasize the importance of U.S.-North Korea talks during the dinner with Ivanka Trump and other members of a U.S. delegation.
Moon hopes to make the Olympics an avenue for peace on the divided Korean Peninsula.
But while the games appear to have paved a way for possible rapprochement between the two Koreas, U.S. and North Korean officials have yet to make direct contact. Earlier this week, the U.S. government said Vice President Mike Pence was set to meet North Korean officials during his visit to South Korea for the opening ceremony, but that North Korea canceled at the last minute.
Moon met Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and Kim Yong Nam, North Korea’s nominal head of state, a day after the opening ceremony and urged North Korea to do more to engage in a dialogue with the United States.
For now, there are no signs that Ivanka Trump will meet Kim Yong Chol, vice chairman of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party Central Committee, who is to attend the closing ceremony.
The White House has emphasized that the purpose of her visit is to celebrate athletes’ achievements, highlighting that she is a winter sports enthusiast herself. She is expected to attend the games on Saturday before Sunday’s closing ceremony. —AFP