South Korea's ruling Democratic Party voiced hopes Saturday that the visit by Ivanka Trump, the U.S. president's daughter and senior advisor, will help improve inter-Korean relations and reduce tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
She arrived in Korea on Friday for a four-day visit as head of a U.S. delegation to the closing ceremony of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, which is scheduled for Sunday.
"We welcome the U.S. delegation, including (Trump's) advisor Ivanka," Kim Hyun, the party's spokeswoman, told reporters. "We believe that the U.S. role in achieving peace on the Korean Peninsula is more important than anything, and we hope that (the U.S.) will play that role well."
Kim also raised the expectation that the growing mood of inter-Korean dialogue could lead to talks between Washington and Pyongyang.
The two Koreas have held a flurry of talks on the occasion of Pyongyang's participation in the winter games in the South. Seoul hopes the cross-border talks will set the stage for dialogue between Washington and Pyongyang and broader talks on the North's denuclearization.
"The view of experts is that we have to maintain the mood of a thaw in inter-Korean relations that has been fostered by the PyeongChang Winter Olympics," Kim said. "We are cautiously looking forward the North-U.S. talks in the future."
Meanwhile, the ruling party berated the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) for its protest against the planned visit by Kim Yong-Chol, a senior North Korean party official accused of masterminding two attacks in 2010 that killed a total of 50 South Koreans.
"Even if the LKP tries to stymie the Moon Jae-in government's efforts for peace on the Korean Peninsula, that would never work," the spokeswoman said.
Conservatives, including LKP lawmakers, have criticized the government's decision to accept Kim as the North Korean delegation chief, arguing that his presence here will serve to weaken the current sanctions regime against Pyongyang and drive a wedge between Seoul and Washington.