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Kim's sister ends Olympic visit, leaving South to mull offer

AP  |  Gangneung (South Korea) 

North Korean leader Un's sister has headed home after a whirlwind three days in South Korea, where she sat among world dignitaries at and tossed a diplomatic offer to the South aimed at ending seven decades of hostility.

and the rest of the North Korean delegation departed for on her brother's private jet last night, a day after they delivered his hopes for a summit with South Korean Moon Jae-in during a lunch at Seoul's presidential palace.

It was a sharp, but possibly fleeting, contrast with many months of rising tensions connected to the North's continued development of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.

They capped their final day in by joining Moon at a concert given by a visiting North Korean art troupe led by the of the immensely popular Moranbong band, whose young female members are hand-picked by Un.

Accepting North Korea's demand to transport more than 100 members of the art troupe by sea, treated the Mangyongbong-92 ferry as an exemption to the maritime sanctions it imposed on the North, a controversial move amid concerns that the North is trying to use to poke holes in international sanctions.

South Korean hosted the North Koreans for lunch Sunday before Moon's chief of staff, Im Jong-seok, hosted them for dinner ahead of the concert.

Kim Yo Jong, 30, is an increasingly prominent figure in her brother's and the first member of the North's ruling family to visit the South since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War. The North Korean delegation also included the country's 90-year-old of state,

In dispatching the highest level of officials the North has ever sent to the South, Un revealed a sense of urgency to break out of deep diplomatic isolation in the face of toughening sanctions over his nuclear program, analysts say.

"Honestly, I didn't know I would come here so suddenly. I thought things would be strange and very different, but I found a lot of things being similar," Kim said while proposing a toast at yesterday's dinner, according to Moon's office.

"Here's to hoping that we could see the pleasant people (of the South) again in and bring closer the future where we are one again."

US yesterday rejected any suggestion that even a temporary warming of relations between the could drive a wedge between and

It's too early to say, Mattis said, "if using the Olympics in a way to reduce tension - if that's going to have any traction once are over. We can't say right now."

accommodated both the North Korean officials and members of the art troupe at the Walkerhill hotel in

The riverside facility is named after late U.S. Army Walton Walker, who's considered a war hero in the South for his battles against the North during the Korean War.

It was built in the 1960s under the government of late anti-communist dictator as a luxury facility for US troops stationed in South Korea.

The North Koreans went through a busy schedule in South Korea as the world watched their every move. They were whisked back and forth between Seoul and the Olympic towns of and

They shared the VIP box with world leaders at the opening ceremony and joined Moon in cheering for the first-ever inter-Korean Olympic team as it debuted in the women's ice hockey tournament. Saturday's game ended in a crushing 8-0 loss to

The most important part of the visit, however, came during one of the quieter moments.

Invited by Moon for lunch at Seoul's presidential palace, verbally delivered her brother's hope for a summit with Moon in Pyongyang, a meeting that she said would help significantly improve ties after an extended period of animosity.

"We hope that (Moon) could leave a legacy that would last over generations by leading the way in opening a new era of unification," she said, according to Moon's office.

Though Moon has used the Olympics to resurrect meaningful communication with after a diplomatic stalemate over its nuclear program, he didn't immediately jump on the North Korean offer for a summit.

He said the Koreas should create an environment so that a summit could take place. He also called for the need of a quick resumption of dialogue between and the

After arriving in Seoul on Friday, the North Koreans attended a chilly opening ceremony at Pyeongchang's Olympic Stadium, taking their place among world dignitaries, including US Vice and Japanese Shinzo Abe, who seemed to go out of their way to not acknowledge the North Koreans despite sitting just few feet (meters) away.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, February 12 2018. 13:00 IST