Donald Trump sending Ivanka to South Korea for Olympics closing ceremony
The commander of US forces in South Korea will also attend the closing ceremony in Pyeongchang
Ivanka Trump, US President Donald Trump's daughter and adviser, will lead a US government delegation to South Korea for the closing ceremony of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games, a group that will also include Washington's commander of joint US-South Korea military forces.
The first daughter's group will include General Vincent K. Brooks, commander of United Nations command, Combined Forces Command, and United States Forces Korea, as well as James Risch, chairman of the Senate foreign relations subcommittee on Near East, South Asia, Central Asia, and counterterrorism.
“I am honoured to lead the US delegation to the closing ceremonies of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics. We look forward to congratulating Team USA and celebrating all that our athletes have achieved,” a White House announcement quoted Ivanka Trump as saying. “Their talent, drive, grit and spirit embodies American excellence, and inspire us all.”
Ivanka's name was invoked often at the Pyeongchang opening ceremony as media outlets and pundits drew parallels between the US president's daughter and Kim Yo-jong, the younger sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
The younger Kim spearheaded a charm offensive from Pyongyang when she attended the start of the Games, and she invited South Korea's President Moon Jae-in to visit Pyongyang. Kim Yo-jong was the first member of the North's ruling dynasty to visit South Korea.
The White House announcement didn't say whether Ivanka would engage in any official talks with lawmakers or members of Moon's government while she's in South Korea.
Marc Knapper, Chargé d'Affaires ad interim at the US embassy in Seoul, will also be part of the delegation. Knapper's position as the highest-ranking official at the embassy highlights a vacancy in Washington's diplomatic corps that many foreign policy analysts have criticised, and has reflected mixed signals Trump is sending over his policy towards the Korean peninsula.
Media outlets including the Washington Post reported last month that the White House dropped its planned ambassador to South Korea, Victor Cha, one month after Seoul was notified of his appointment – because Cha privately expressed disagreement with the Trump administration's North Korea policy in late December.
Cha raised concerns with National Security Council officials over their consideration of a limited military strike on the North aimed at sending a message without sparking a wider war – an approach sometimes referred to as a “bloody nose” strategy, according to the reports.