Ivanka Trump says visit to Korea is to reaffirm ‘commitment’ to ally

February 23, 2018

SEOUL/INCHEON, Feb. 23 (Yonhap) — Ivanka Trump, the daughter of U.S. President Donald Trump, said Friday that she came to South Korea to reaffirm the “strong and enduring commitment” to the people of the U.S.’ ally.

She made the remarks upon arriving at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, to attend the upcoming closing ceremony of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics to be held on Sunday. She serves as a senior advisor to the president.

This Joint Press Corps photo shows Ivanka Trump, the U.S. president's daughter, waving after arriving at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, on Feb. 23, 2018. (Yonhap)This Joint Press Corps photo shows Ivanka Trump, the U.S. president’s daughter, waving after arriving at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, on Feb. 23, 2018. (Yonhap)

“It is a great honor to be here in South Korea with the U.S. delegation. We are very excited to attend the 2018 Winter Olympic Games to cheer for Team USA and to reaffirm our strong and enduring commitment with the people of the Republic of Korea,” she said, according to pool reports.

“So thank you for the kind welcome. We are excited to be here and are looking forward to several wonderful days,” she added.

Ivanka Trump is scheduled to have dinner with South Korean President Moon Jae-in later in the day. During her four-day stay, she will also travel to the eastern town of PyeongChang to meet U.S. athletes and join the closing ceremony.

A U.S. embassy official told Yonhap that she will leave for PyeongChang right after having dinner with the president.

Her South Korean trip coincides with a planned visit by a North Korean delegation that will attend the closing ceremony. The delegation will be headed by Kim Yong-chol, vice chairman of the central committee of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea.

Their overlapping schedule is sparking speculation that there could be a possibility of some kind of contact between the U.S. and North Korean officials on the sidelines of the sporting event, though government officials both from South Korea and the U.S. say the chances are slim.

A mood of peace has been growing since the North sent its athletes to the Olympics and invited Moon to Pyongyang for what could be the third inter-Korean summit, after years of chilled relations due to its continued missile and nuclear provocations.

Moon has yet to formally accept the invitation but expressed hopes of creating the right conditions for the meeting to take place. He asked the North to make active efforts to open dialogue with the U.S.

It was reported that U.S. Vice President Mike Pence had planned to meet a North Korean delegation that included Kim Yo-jong, the sister of its leader Kim Jong-un, during his visit here for the Feb. 9 opening ceremony. The North reportedly canceled the meeting at the last minute.

Attention is now focusing on if and when the U.S. and North Korea will seek direct bilateral contact of any kind to discuss denuclearization. The U.S. has hinted that it is now up to the North to initiate talks. The North has adamantly said it is unwilling to give up its nuclear weapons program.

Ivanka Trump’s delegation includes White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, Gen. Vincent Brooks, commander of U.S. Forces Korea, and Sen. James Risch (R-ID), chairman of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near East, South Asia, Central Asia, and Counterterrorism.