South and North Korean officials continue exchange during Olympics

Kim Jong-un invites South Korean president Moon Jae-in to Pyongyang for summit

Moon responded by saying he hopes the right environment will be created so the meeting between the two leaders could occur, an apparent reference to demands by the USA and other allies that the North abandon its nuclear weapons program. It was a sharp, but possibly fleeting, contrast with many months of rising tensions connected to the North's continued development of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.

In its efforts to bring North Korea to the Pyeongchang Games, South Korea paused joint military exercises with the USA and relaxed a series of sanctions, including on individuals like Ms. Kim.

That's what people are saying in South Korea, as they consider the unprecedented visit by Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who has raised her profile dramatically at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. The South hosts 28,500 US troops, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean war. It was the only documentation on the table on the North Korean side.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Sunday rejected any suggestion that even a temporary warming of relations between the North and South could drive a wedge between Seoul and Washington.

Pence, who left South Korea on Saturday, told reporters traveling with him that Moon had informed him about the meeting with North Korean officials. It was built in the 1960s under the government of late anti-communist dictator Park Chung-hee as a luxury facility for US troops stationed in South Korea.

Are these Winter Games having the effect South Korea had hoped, in thawing relations with the north? They were whisked back and forth between Seoul and the Olympic towns of Pyeongchang and Gangneung. He refused to acknowledge Kim Yong-nam during a brief stop at a dinner Friday night and remained seated when athletes from North and South Korea marched in the opening ceremony.

They shared the VIP box with world leaders at the opening ceremony and joined Moon in cheering for the first-ever inter-Korean Olympic team as it debuted in the women's ice hockey tournament.

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Many in Seoul , however, while interested in the warming high-level contacts, are also tempering expectations for a real breakthrough.

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One telling incident came early.

Kim Yo-jong carried a bright blue folder as she entered the conference room at the Blue House, Seoul's presidential office, and some analysts speculated it could contain a letter from her brother.

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

A South Korean government official said Seoul's stance was that separate talks with North Korea by South Korea and the United States should both lead the denuclearisation of the North while sanctions and pressure continue to be applied.

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

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has warned Mr. Moon not to be taken in by North Korea's "smile diplomacy" during the Olympics, while U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence has sought to keep a spotlight on North Korea's worst attributes, vowing to impose the "toughest and most aggressive" sanctions until the country "abandons its nuclear and ballistic missile programs once and for all".

Kim has captivated media attention and fascinated the public since her arrival on Friday.

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