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Pence `Encouraged' by Talks With South Korea's Moon at Olympics

12 February 2018

Speaking to reporters on his flight home on Saturday, Pence said the United States, South Korea and Japan were in complete agreement on isolating North Korea over its nuclear weapons program.

A North Korean delegation, the highest-ranking to visit the South and led by the younger sister of the North's leader Kim Jong Un, concluded its visit on Sunday after charming and intriguing the South Korean public, but still faces deep scepticism over Pyongyang's sincerity towards improving relations.

The message was delivered by Kim's sister, Kim Yo-jong, during a meeting with Moon at Cheong Wa Dae.

Regarding the invitation, the White House told Yonhap News that Washington is closely cooperating with the South in order to produce a "united response" to Pyongyang.

For North Korea, the visit invitation is the latest manifestation of a shift in tone, a dramatic departure from years of verbal hostilities and threats toward the USA and its neighbours.

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While the two Koreas were all smiles during meetings on the sidelines of the Winter Games, Vice President Mike Pence vowed to maintain the administration's policy of "maximum diplomatic and economic pressure" against the North.

Are these Winter Games having the effect South Korea had hoped, in thawing relations with the north?

During their meeting President Moon was pictured smiling and shaking hands with Kim Yo Jong.

The figure cut by Ms. Kim, with her warm smile and sharp business wardrobe, could hardly be more different.

Moon has expressed hope the détente could lead to a broader dialogue with the United States.

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By also sending a youthful, photogenic individual who would surely draw worldwide attention at the Olympics, Kim might have also been trying to construct a fresher image of the country, particularly in face of US efforts to use the Olympics as an occasion to highlight the North's brutal human rights record. The U.S. -led worldwide community has been tightening the screws on North Korea with sanctions created to punish its economy and rein in its efforts to expand its nuclear weapons and missile program, which now includes developmental long-range missiles targeting the U.S. mainland.

The communist state has test-fired numerous missiles, including three ICBMs in recent months, and conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test September 3, prompting the U.N. Security Council to impose its toughest sanctions yet in a bid to get the North to stop.

The South's Unification Ministry said steps to improve ties would be led by the two Koreas, but with the support of the global community.

North Korea defends its weapons programmes as essential to counter US aggression, saying regular war drills between the United States and the South are preparations for invasion.

The Koreas previously held summits in 2000 and 2007, both hosted in Pyongyang by Kim Jong Il, Kim Jong Un's late father.

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Pence `Encouraged' by Talks With South Korea's Moon at Olympics