Pence upstaged by 2 Koreas' efforts to warm ties

Pence upstaged by 2 Koreas' efforts to warm ties

The United States insisted it would continue its policy of exerting global pressure on North Korea in an effort to get it to abandon its nuclear program.

Kim Jong Un's sister courteously handed President Moon Jae-in a personal letter from the North Korean leader as the pair met for historic talks at the South Korea Winter Olympics.

Moon responded to the invitation by suggesting the two countries "should accomplish this by creating the right conditions", adding that talks between North Korea and the United States were also needed, and requested that North Korea be more active in talking with the USA, according to the spokesman.

A senior administration official aboard Pence's airplane also told reporters that South Korea and Japan "are solidly with our alliance and the need to continue and intensify economic sanctions".

Kim Yo Jong and her delegation spent three days dining with top government officials, watching the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics and cheering for the united women's ice hockey team the two Koreas have fielded at this Olympics.

The North Koreans have invited Moon to visit Pyongyang in what would be the third inter-Korean summit talks since their 1945 division.

South Korea said it will seek ways to continue engaging North Korea including trying to arrange more reunions for families divided by the Korean War and aim to lower military tensions.

After delivering an invitation for Moon to visit Pyongyang earlier on Saturday, Kim arrived dressed in a black fur-collared coat and took her seat next to North Korea's ceremonial head of state Kim Yong Nam, with Olympic chief Thomas Bach also present.

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Asked whether it was hard for him to see Jong Un's sister sitting behind Vice President Pence at the Opening Ceremony, Mr. Warmbier said: 'No, she's in the Kim family, ' suggesting that he did not attribute the same blame for his son's fate to her as he does to her dictator brother. He also avoided the North Korean delegation, which included Kim Yo-jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, at a VIP reception for delegation leaders, when even Japanese president Shinzo Abe - no fan of North Korea - said hello. The president has repeatedly threatened to bomb North Korea and derisively refers to Kim as "Little Rocket Man".

A Cheong Wa Dae official said Moon "practically accepted" the invitation, but has yet to announce details on relevant measures.

As first vice director of the Central Committee of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party, Kim has been an increasingly prominent figure in North Korea's leadership and is considered one of the few people who has earned her brother's absolute trust. Moon warmly shook hands with her and later held talks with her in Seoul.

"The vice president is grateful that President Moon reaffirmed his strong commitment to the global maximum pressure campaign and for his support for continued sanctions", Pence spokeswoman Alyssa Farah said when asked about the development. The ongoing rapprochement mood flared after Kim Jong Un said in his New Year's Day address that he was willing to send an Olympic delegation.

Mr. Han, however, is not convinced it means anything, saying what North Korea wants most is to reduce pain from global sanctions.

Moon joined Pence in the arena and sat next to him, turned around to greet Warmbier, according to a White House pool report.

South Korea suggested the formation of a joint team as part of its efforts to use the Games to re-engage with the North and pave the way for talks over the North's weapons program.

"It's a breakthrough", said Michael Breen, the author of Kim Jong-il: North Korea's Dear Leader.

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