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NKorea praises visit to the South

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February 12, 2018

Kim Jong Un's sister Kim Yo Jong has departed for Pyongyang after a historic visit to South Korea.

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

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

Kim Yo Jong, 30, is an increasingly prominent figure in her brother's government 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 head of state, Kim Yong Nam.

In dispatching the highest level of government officials the North has ever sent to the South, Kim Jong 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.

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 Pyeongchang and Gangneung.

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 Switzerland.

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, Kim Yo Jong 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.

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has rejected any suggestion that even a temporary warming of relations between the North and South could drive a wedge between Seoul and Washington.

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