South Korean leader welcomes North Korean delegation to presidential palace

Performers participate during the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang South Korea Friday Feb. 9 2018

As for sharing Moon's box with the North Koreans, the officials said they knew in advance who was going to be in Moon's box to watch the opening ceremony.

"It is absolutely necessary for the North and the United States to engage in talks at an early date", he cited Moon as saying.

The guests, including leaders of North and South, were invited to pour melted white chocolate on top - and the barbed wire would dissolve.

The two Koreas, which remain technically at war, have cycled through countless periods of chill and thaw since their division 70 years ago.

Any meeting would represent a diplomatic coup for Moon, who swept to power previous year on a policy of engaging more with the reclusive North.

"If there is a message to be conveyed to South Korea or the US, she is amply well positioned to convey it", he said.

Kim Yo Jong is the first member of the ruling Kim family bearing the bloodline of the sacred Mount Paektu, a centerpiece of the North's idolization and propaganda campaign, to cross the border into the South since the 1950-53 Korean War.

Moon and Kim Yo Jong had their first face-to-face encounter at the opening ceremony. And on Friday, before an awkward trilateral photo spray with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Moon and Pence at a welcome reception in Pyeongchang's Olympic village, Moon met with North Korea's ceremonial head of state, Kim Yong Nam.

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Alongside 22 athletes, Pyongyang has sent more than 400 delegates to the Games, including a team of cheerleaders and an orchestra. North Korea will compete in alpine skiing, figure skating, short track speed skating, and cross-country skiing.

A White House official said Pence did not interact with Kim Yo Jong or Kim Yong Nam who were seated a row behind the USA vice-president during the opening ceremony.

The early plan showed Pence, with his wife to the left and Moon to his right, seated across the round table from Kim, who was nestled between U.N. Secretary General António Guterres and International Olympics Committee President Thomas Bach's wife.

USA vice-president Mike Pence, who was seated in the same box, did not interact with the North Koreans at any point, U.S. officials said.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have worsened over the past year, as North Korea has continued to develop its nuclear capabilities.

Pence's trip began in Japan, stopped in Seoul, and culminated with his visit to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics opening ceremony.

"President Moon and I reflected last night on the need to do something fundamentally different", Mr. Pence said. Pence, who is using his visit to South Korea to underscore the Trump administration's policy of maximum pressure on the North, has publicly and repeatedly warned Seoul not to let down its guard to a North Korean charm offensive.

The North Korean delegates later Saturday may attend the debut of the first-ever inter-Korean Olympic team at the women's ice hockey tournament in Gangneung.

The North has sent almost 500 people to the Pyeongchang Games, including officials, athletes, artists and also a 230-member state-trained cheering group after the Koreas agreed to a series of conciliatory gestures for the games.

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