Tillerson: USA's intentions regarding Syria and North Korea

Hannah Rogers
January 19, 2018

That's right: what many might consider the unthinkable could happen, as representatives from both countries have agreed to march as one under a single flag in the opening and closing ceremonies, as well as fielding a women's hockey team together.

North Korea will send a 550-member delegation to the games, which includes 230 cheerleaders, 140 artists and 30 taekwondo players for a demonstration.

The two countries also agreed on Wednesday that their skiing teams would train together in the Masikryong ski resort in North Korea.

At those events, North and South Korean athletes in the same uniforms entered stadiums behind a "unification flag", a blue image of the Korean Peninsula on a white background, to the tune of the Korean traditional folk song "Arirang" instead of their individual national anthems.

The 2018 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games were slated to run from February to March at South Korea's east county of PyeongChang.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has refused to give up development of nuclear missiles capable of hitting the U.S., in spite of increasingly severe UN sanctions, raising fears of a new war on the Korean peninsula.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Wednesday the United States is getting evidence that worldwide sanctions are "really starting to hurt" North Korea, even as he accused Russian Federation of not implementing all of the measures.

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On Wednesday, Turkey said it would not hesitate to take action in Afrin district and other regions across the border in Syria unless the United States withdrew support for the force. The 2018 Winter Olympics is being hosted in the South Korean city of Pyeongchang.

The top American diplomat said he is waiting to hear from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that he seeks to have a conversation.

A spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry said his country did not send a delegation to the meeting because the talks would not resolve the North Korea issue. Kim Jong Un's wife, Ri Sol Ju, was a member of a 2005 squad.

This would mark the third time the two nations compete under the same banner at a sporting event, following the 1991 ping pong world championship and the Under-20 soccer world cup held that same year. Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon said on Thursday that five to six North Korean athletes will join the South Korean team.

"We can only take 23 players to the Olympics, and they thought these North Koreans are going to come in and take our spots", South Korean women's hockey head coach Sarah Murray told Reuters.

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said she hoped the dialogue would continue well beyond the Olympics, but stressed that existing sanctions must be applied more rigorously. The Swiss hockey federation said in comments reported by South Korea's Yonhap news agency that this was "not fair and distorts competition".

Significant reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula seems to be happening, and it's a big blow to Trump Administration strategy, which has centered on isolating North Korea and presenting the whole world, beyond China and Russian Federation of course, as unified against them.

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