SEOUL, South Korea — Ivanka Trump channeled her father’s call for “maximum pressure” on North Korea on Friday, as she started a highly anticipated trip to South Korea, two weeks after the North’s leader sent his sister here on a mission seen as an attempt to undermine Seoul’s alliance with Washington.
In an early tweet from Washington, President Trump noted her arrival, saying, “We cannot have a better, or smarter, person representing our country.”
Ms. Trump, who holds the title of senior White House adviser, had dinner with President Moon Jae-in of South Korea at the presidential Blue House in Seoul, the capital. She will later lead an American delegation to Pyeongchang, east of Seoul, where the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics will be held on Sunday.
White House officials said Ms. Trump would be cheering on American athletes and helping to cement Washington’s alliance with South Korea. She does not intend to meet with a North Korean delegation that will attend the ceremony, they said. But her presence at the event with the North Koreans is bound to generate intense interest.
Ms. Trump’s arrival was covered live on South Korean television. She emerged from Incheon International Airport to face a bank of television cameras that captured her every move. Later Mr. Moon hosted a Korean dinner for Ms. Trump, including kosher dishes for her and a short concert featuring traditional Korean instruments.
At the opening ceremony of the Games, the surprise visit by Kim Yo-jong, sister of the North Korean leader created something of a sensation in the South, overshadowing Vice President Mike Pence’s trip at the same time. Ms. Kim met with Mr. Moon and delivered a surprise offer: her brother’s invitation to visit the North for a summit meeting.
Despite South Korean hopes that Ms. Kim and Mr. Pence would use the Games as an opportunity for their own diplomacy, the two ignored each other in Mr. Moon’s V.I.P. box at the ceremony, where they sat just feet apart. South Korean officials arranged a later meeting between the two, American officials said, but the North Koreans pulled out at the last minute.
With Ms. Kim having seized the media spotlight as the first immediate member of the North’s ruling family to set foot in South Korea, Ms. Trump’s visit is expected to restore some luster to the American side of the unspoken propaganda contest.
Mr. Moon drew laughter at the dinner by saying that whenever he was on the phone with Mr. Trump, the president always asked whether ticket sales for the Olympics were high. Mr. Moon then stressed the importance of easing tensions on the peninsula, thanking “President Trump’s strong support for inter-Korean dialogue.”
“North Korea’s participation in the Winter Olympic Games has served as an opportunity for us to engage in active discussions between the two Koreas, and this has led to lowering of tensions on the peninsula,” he said.
Ms. Trump said she was in South Korea to “reaffirm our bonds of friendship and partnership” but also “to reaffirm our commitment to our maximum-pressure campaign to ensure that the Korean Peninsula is denuclearized,” according to a media pool report.
The local news media has already been touting similarities between the women, calling Ms. Kim “North Korea’s Ivanka” because of the influence the two are purported to have over the heads of state in their respective families.
South Korean officials are intent on not seeing a repeat of the tense standoff between Ms. Kim and Mr. Pence at the opening ceremony, and have said they do not intend to arrange a meeting between Ms. Trump and the North Korean delegation.
One obstacle is that the North’s delegation is headed by Kim Yong-chol, a former spy chief who is widely blamed in the South for the 2010 sinking of a South Korean warship and some of the North’s alleged hacking attacks in recent years. Mr. Kim has been on a United States sanctions list since 2010.
United States officials said that Ms. Trump would not meet with any North Korean defectors during her visit, as Mr. Pence did in an attempt to draw attention to the North Korean government’s many human rights abuses.
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