Amid Olympic thaw, Pence says allies united in isolating N. Korea

Saul Franklin
February 11, 2018

North Korea's rather reclusive leader Kim Jong-un has asked South Korean President Moon Jae-in to visit Pyongyang at the "earliest date" possible for what will be a third inter-Korean summit. North Korea has tested a record number of missiles past year and has shown no interest in abandoning the country's nuclear program.

Kim Yo Jong made the comments on Saturday during a luncheon hosted by Moon at Seoul's presidential palace where she delivered her brother's invitation for a summit meeting in Pyongyang.

Kim Jo Jong carried a blue folder adorned with a seal, which was later confirmed to have contained a private message from Kim Jong Un himself. "She's in the Kim family", he said. It now appears Moon will accept the invitation after first responding by saying that a meeting could happen only "by creating the right conditions", according to Moon's spokesperson Kim Eui Kyeom.

Local media in South Korea initially reported that the technical disruptions were caused by some sort of cyberattack, but Olympic Games spokesman Sung Baik-you said there is no such evidence of such activity, at least not yet.

Athletes from both countries walked on stage under a unified Korean flag, but in the audience an even more significant exchange took place.

Her presence overshadowed the nominal head of the delegation, Kim Yong Nam, the aging head of the North Korean Parliament.

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Mr Moon took a commemorative photo with the North Korean guests prior to their talks.

US President Donald Trump and the North Korean leadership traded insults as tensions rose. They were also served North Korean-style fermented fish and white "kimchi" or fermented cabbage. North Korea's treatment of his son, he said, "is their standard ― that's the way they do business". Moon served as Roh's chief of staff at the time. Moon had earlier met Kim Yong Nam during a dinner for visiting dignitaries.

Some North Korean experts believe tough United Nations sanctions that are cutting off most of the isolated North's sources of revenue have added pressure on Pyongyang to engage further with Seoul.

"I leave here very confident that we are going to continue to do the things we've known have to be done to continue to pressure North Korea to abandon their nuclear ambitions", Mr. Pence said on Air Force Two.

The meeting followed a brief encounter between the two parties at the Olympic Opening Ceremony on Friday, in which Moon twice shook hands with Yo-jong.

If that happens, then the United States might lose its seat in any future talks to end North Korea's nuclear program - and it might harm relations with a staunch ally in the process.

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