Updated Feb 27, 2018

Olympics end with North Korean diplomacy stuck at the starting line

South Korean President Moon Jae-in with his wife, Kim Jung-sook, and Ivanka Trump at the closing ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. Photo: Sergei Bobylev / TASS via Getty Images

Notwithstanding Pyeongchang’s proximity to the North Korean border, a mere 40 miles, the Winter Olympics concluded without incident. That in itself is no small achievement.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in earned a diplomatic gold medal by enticing Pyongyang to join the festivities rather than disrupt them. North and South Korean athletes carried the torch in the opening ceremonies. The North Korean cheerleaders retained their enthusiasm even as the joint women’s hockey team lost every game. And North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, sent a high-level delegation that included his sister.

What’s next: There may be a meeting between the North and South leaders, which wouldn't hurt. But after two weeks of sprints, jumps and triple axels, relations between Washington and Pyongyang haven't changed much.

Even though Kim's sister sat within a ski pole’s distance of Vice President Mike Pence, and later Ivanka Trump, during the opening and closing ceremonies respectively, there was no high-level contact. There may have been talks about talks, but none actually occurred.

As the Olympics wound down, the Trump administration returned to its status quo ante — more sanctions. North Korea again signaled its willingness to negotiate with the United States, although undoubtedly with a different agenda in mind.

[UNSUPPORTED BLOCK TYPE: axiom]

P.J. Crowley is a former Assistant Secretary of State and author of "Red Line: American Foreign Policy in a Time of Fractured Politics and Failing States."

Go deeper

Sign of the times: A pro-Warren super PAC

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren at a rally in Nevada. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

A group of women progressives who back Sen. Elizabeth Warren has formed Persist PAC, a super PAC airing pro-Warren ads starting Wednesday in an effort to boost her performance ahead of Saturday's crucial Nevada caucuses, a spokesman told Axios.

Why it matters: Warren has spoken adamantly against the influence of unlimited spending and dark money in politics. But these supporters have concluded that before Warren can reform the system, she must win under the rules that exist — and that whether she likes it or not, their uncoordinated help may be needed to keep her viable through this weekend's contest and into South Carolina and Super Tuesday.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Pentagon policy chief resigns amid reported discord with Trump

John Rood. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

John Rood, the Pentagon's top policy official, will resign from his post on Feb. 28, CNN first reported and President Trump confirmed.

The state of play: CNN said Rood "was perceived as not embracing some of the changes in policy the White House and senior Pentagon officials wanted," such as peace talks in Afghanistan with the Taliban and a decision to cut back on military exercises with South Korea as the president courted North Korea's Kim Jong-un.

Coronavirus cases rise, as warnings of global pandemic grow

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's NHC; Note: China refers to mainland China and the Diamond Princess is the cruise ship offshore Yokohama, Japan. Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

We may be "at the brink" of a global pandemic, warns a top U.S. public health official, as cases continue to spread despite containment efforts. Meanwhile, the global economy is being affected, including the tech manufacturing industry.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed more than 2,000 people and infected over 75,000 others, mostly in mainland China, where the National Health Commission announced 136 new deaths since Tuesday.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health