N. Korea Reportedly Wants to Be at Inauguration
South Korean media reported today that North Korea wants to send its chief nuclear envoy to Barack Obama's inauguration, but the idea was shot down in Washington.
Pyongyang had proposed sending Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan for the event, according to the JoongAng Ilbo newspaper, which cited an unidentified South Korean government official for the report.
The State Department advised last week that, while ambassadors to Washington and their spouses are welcome to attend the inauguration to represent their countries, other officials will not be seated. North Korea does not have a U.S. ambassador as the countries have broken diplomatic relations.
"These invitations are only for the chiefs of diplomatic missions and their spouses and are not transferable," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice wrote in a diplomatic note last Tuesday.
South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan told the Yonhap news agency that he has heard the reports of North Korea's interest but "I understand things are not going that way."
U.S. officials have not confirmed Pyongyang's reported request.
Pyongyang reportedly informed the Obama transition team of its interest by passing a message through the U.S. nonprofit organization the Korea Society, the South Korean official told JoongAng Ilbo.
"I've heard negative opinions far outpaced the positive views," the source added, referring to the response from the Obama team.
"Pyongyang may be trying to test the political waters in the Obama administration by watching Washington's response," the source added.
Ties between the United States and North Korea have been tense throughout the eight years of the Bush administration, with the governments locked in a standoff over Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions.
Posted at 10:20 PM ET on Jan 12, 2009
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