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"We'll talk" to North Korea, says Mike Pence

12 February 2018

South Korean President Moon Jae-in's gambit to use the Olympics as a form of diplomacy has produced a dramatic gesture - an invitation from Kim Jong Un to hold talks between the two leaders in North Korea - but it is a long way from a major breakthrough. But the two sides rebuffed his efforts to organize a meeting between them during the games.

Now engaged in an on-going tiff with the U.S. over its repeated missile tests and nuclear tests, North Korea has been depicted by the United States and worldwide media as a nation that is overly repressed by its Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un.

Over the weekend, Kim Yo Jong, the younger sister of leader Kim Jong Un visited Seoul and met with President Moon Jae-in, a historic first by any member of the ruling Kim family and the most significant diplomatic development in the Kim Jong Un era.

Such a meeting, if it came about, would mark the first inter-Korea summit since 2007.

The visit is part of an agreement between the International Olympic Committee and both North Korea and South Korea, according to a source.

Moon is expected to study the North's call for a bilateral summit, while monitoring whether Pyongyang will move to have dialogue with the United States as requested by his government.

Kim Jong-un's army of cheerleading bombshells arrive ahead of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games 2018.

Mr Moon and Kim Yo Jong will have another opportunity to talk when they attend the second and final performance by a visiting North Korean orchestra on Sunday evening in Seoul, a Blue House official said.

North Korea has sent a delegation of 22 athletes to compete in five disciplines, with their women's ice hockey players to compete in a unified Korean team.

With a pleasant and humble smile, Kim Yo-jong left a heart-warming message in Seoul's presidential guest book, which couldn't go unnoticed on media.

Pence did say, however, that Moon shared with him details of his meeting with North Korean leaders, without elaborating. "But if you want to talk, we'll talk".

"We've said for some time it's really up to the North Koreans to decide when they're ready to engage with us in a honest way, a meaningful way", Tillerson told reporters in Egypt.

A senior US official said Pence and Moon, while watching speed skating together on Saturday night, discussed intensifying sanctions.

That was the clearest sign yet of an expanding diplomatic opening opposed by the Trump administration. Prior to the 2007 summit, there was the February 13 Agreement, in which North Korea agreed to close its main nuclear reactor in exchange for aid.

In the interview with the Washington Post published on Sunday, Pence said the United States agreed that diplomatic talks with North Korea would first be conducted by Seoul, after which direct talks with Washington may follow.

It was very rare for a South Korean president to hold formal talks with high-ranking North Korean officials, as the two countries remain technically at war after an armistice stopped the 1950-53 Korean War.