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Kim Jong-un invites South Korea's President to Pyongyang (Second Lead)

12 February 2018

Earlier, at a VIP reception before the ceremony, Pence went around a table and shook hands with all the dignitaries except Kim Yong Nam, North Korea's 90-year-old nominal head of state.

The recent detente, anchored by South Korea's hosting of the Winter Olympic Games that began on Friday, came despite an acceleration in the North's weapons programmes a year ago and pressure from Seoul's allies in Washington.

From the South Korean side, the unification minister and Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung participated in the banquet along with Lee Hee-beom, the president of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games organizing committee, and Choi Moon-soon, governor of the Gangwon province where the host city is located.

"Special envoy Kim Yo Jong delivered a personal letter" from her brother stating his "wish to improve inter-Korean relations", said Moon's spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom.

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All of them will attend the meeting with Moon, the Cheong Wa Dae spokesman said.

The South Korean President also stressed the need for the Communist North to resume its dialogue with the US.

The two Koreas have held two inter-Korean summits, in 2000 and 2007, both in Pyongyang.

"I am very confident, as President Trump is, that President Moon will continue to stand strongly with us in our extreme-pressure campaign", Pence told NBC in an interview on Friday, maintaining all options were open to deal with the crisis.

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In the interview, Pence said the US and South Korea agreed on terms for further engagement with North Korea, calling the diplomatic path "maximum pressure and engagement at the same time".

Kim Jong Un and President Trump impersonators were booted from the Olympic Games' opening ceremony.

North Korea has spent years developing its military, saying it needs to protect itself from USA aggression.

South Korea said it will seek ways to continue engaging North Korea, including trying to arrange more reunions for families divided by the war and lowering military tensions. North Korea has said it will never give up its nuclear deterrent and critics in the South see its participation in the Games as a reward for bad behaviour.

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Moon and Kim Yong Nam planned to return to the Games venue to watch the joint Korean women's ice hockey team - the first ever combined team at the Olympics - take on Switzerland, the Blue House said.

Kim Jong-un invites South Korea's President to Pyongyang (Second Lead)