President Donald Trump on Friday hosted the American Olympic and Paralympic teams that competed in Pyeongchang, and he praised the work being done to bring about peace between North and South Korea.
Trump said he was "thrilled" to welcome the athletes to the White House, saying they performed well and made the country proud.
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"Two months ago, America sent each of you to the winter Olympics to represent the red, white, and blue and you did an awfully good job," Trump said.
"You overcame setbacks, you powered through obstacles, and I will tell you this—because of your hard work and your sacrifice, you were given the greatest honor in sports: to represent the United States as an Olympic athlete," Trump added.
He also said the Olympics helped bring the Koreas together for peace negotiations, referring to a pending denuclearization agreement after South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un met this week.
"My gratitude goes out to South Korea and my real warm feeling for President Moon for being such a gracious host to our delegation," Trump said. "On the occasion of this week's meeting between president Moon and Kim Jong Un, I want to express my hope that all of the people of Korea — North Korea and South — can someday live together in harmony, prosperity, and peace. And it looks like it could happen."
Trump said people doubted whether he could find a peaceful alternative to either accepting Kim's possession of nuclear weapons or pursuing military action.
"When I began, people were saying that was an impossibility," Trump said in reference to a peaceful alternative. "They said there were two alternatives: let them have what they have or go to war. Now we have a much better alternative than anybody thought even possible."
He also noted the meeting he is set to have with Kim, which is scheduled for May.
"I will be meeting with Kim Jong Un in the coming weeks as we seek to denuclearize the North Korean area in the entire Korean peninsula," he said. "Hopefully the day will come when Olympic athletes can compete on a Korean peninsula that is free of nuclear weapons and where all Koreans can live together and can share their dreams."
Later in his remarks, Trump congratulated various athletes by name, including those on the Olympic and Paralympic teams. Many of them came up to say a few words, and at the end of the president’s remarks, they presented him with team flags signed by all the Olympians and Paralympians.
A small group of the athletes skipped the event, such as figure skater and outspoken Trump administration critic Adam Rippon. The majority of the Olympians, including the entire gold-medal winning women’s hockey team, attended.