WASHINGTON, Feb. 21 (Korea Bizwire) — U.S. President Donald Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, will lead her country’s delegation to the closing ceremony of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics Sunday, U.S. officials said.
Ivanka Trump, who serves as an adviser to the president, will depart Thursday and arrive the following day in South Korea, where she is scheduled to have dinner the same day with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at his office, Cheong Wa Dae, the senior U.S. government officials said during a background briefing Wednesday.
Her visit will be an opportunity to cheer American athletes competing in the Games and reaffirm the strength of the South Korea-U.S. alliance, they said. She does not have plans to meet with North Korean government officials or defectors during the trip, they added.
“I am honored to lead the U.S. delegation to the closing ceremonies of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics,” Ivanka Trump said in a statement released by the White House. “We look forward to congratulating Team USA and celebrating all that our athletes have achieved. Their talent, drive, grit and spirit embodies American excellence, and inspire us all.”
The first daughter plans to attend various Olympic events on Saturday and Sunday and depart for the U.S. Monday morning.
The delegation will also include White House press secretary Sarah Sanders; Gen. Vincent Brooks, commander of U.S. Forces Korea; Sen. James Risch (R-ID), chairman of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near East, South Asia, Central Asia, and Counterterrorism; Marc Knapper, charge d’affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul; and Sgt. Shauna Rohbock, a former Olympic bobsledder and current member of the U.S. Army National Guard.
Ivanka Trump was widely reported to be the president’s pick to lead the U.S. delegation to the closing ceremony, spurring speculation over her role in the administration’s potential engagements with Pyongyang.
Vice President Mike Pence led the U.S. delegation to the opening ceremony Feb. 9 and was set up to meet with North Korea’s high-level delegates before the North Koreans pulled out at the last minute, the State Department said Tuesday.
The North Korean side included leader Kim Jong-un’s younger sister, Yo-jong, and the regime’s ceremonial head of state, Kim Yong-nam.
Tensions have run high between the two countries as North Korea has pushed its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs to place the U.S. within striking range.
Meanwhile, South-North ties have warmed rapidly this year through North Korea’s participation in the Games and Kim’s invitation to Moon to visit Pyongyang for what would be the third inter-Korean summit.
Seoul hopes the mood for reconciliation will lead to talks between Washington and Pyongyang to resolve the nuclear standoff.