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North Korean leader calls for meeting with South Korean president

11 February 2018

Pence's cold demeanor toward the North Koreans at the Pyeongchang games was overshadowed by friendly cooperation between the North and South.

Kim and the North Korean leader's sister are scheduled to hold a meeting with Moon on Saturday. "But what is more important than anything is that we are together".

Vice President Mike Pence did not deliberately snub North Koreans at an Olympic reception, according to United States officials who pushed back on South Korean reports that Pence deliberately came late to a VIP gathering Friday evening and then snubbed officials from Pyongyang.

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Last month, a White House official told reporters Pence would attend the Winter Olympics opening to cheer American athletes and to counter any North Korean effort to "hijack" the games with a propaganda campaign. He supported Pence's moves to meet with North Korean defectors, paying respects at a memorial to the 46 South Korean sailors killed in a 2010 torpedo attack blamed on the North. Pence also invited as his Olympics guest the father of USA college student Otto Warmbier, who died after he was imprisoned by North Korea for stealing a propaganda poster.

Both Kim Yong-nam and Kim Yo-jong were expected to attend a Saturday meeting with Moon, possibly at Moon's presidential office Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul, the agency reported.

These officials said that while Pence did not greet Kim Yong Nam, he didn't deliberately skip over him.

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Analysts say the North's decision to send her to the Olympics shows eagerness to break out from diplomatic isolation by improving relations with the South, which it could use as a bridge for approaching the United States.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in (C) poses for a photo with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence (R) and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at a reception held in Yongpyeong, 200 kilometers east of Seoul, before the opening of the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games on February 9, 2018. The North also previous year conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test to date.

The first medals of the Pyeongchang Olympics will be awarded Saturday, but most attention will be focused on a preliminary round hockey match featuring the combined Korean women's hockey team.

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Abe discussed North Korea's nuclear and missile programs and brought up the issue of Japanese nationals who were abducted by the North decades ago when he shook hands and briefly spoke with Kim Yong Nam during the dinner hosted by Moon in Pyeongchang, the Kyodo News service quoted the Japanese government as saying. There's a chance they'll also watch a performance by a visiting North Korean art troupe in Seoul on Sunday before flying back to Pyongyang. Pence carried a similar message during his trip to Japan and South Korea.