'Too Soon' To Tell If Korean Olympic Thaw Will Last: Jim Mattis

UPDATE2: Abe, Moon affirm

The task of Pence's trip, created to distract the world's gaze from North and South Korea's Olympic unification, proved too hard to execute as remarkable images of a smiling Kim Yo Jong, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's sister, standing alongside Moon at the Blue House emerged from the day and dominated the airwaves.

Ahead of the reception, hosted by South Korean President Moon Jae-in, South Korean media said Pence was expected to be seated opposite Kim Yong Nam, North Korea's nominal head of state, at the 12-seat head table.

Wearing a black coat and with her hair pulled back, she presents a marked contrast to the ceremonial head of North Korea's government - the often expressionless Kim Yong Nam, 90.

Invited by Moon for lunch at Seoul's presidential palace, Kim Yo Jong verbally delivered her brother's hope for a summit with Moon in Pyongyang, a meeting that she said would help significantly improve ties after an extended period of animosity.

Behind Pence was the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.

Moon was heard asking the visiting delegation "I appreciate you stayed late out in the cold, are you all well?" before the talks proceeded behind closed doors.

Pence shook hands with other leaders, including close ally Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, but not Kim Yong-nam, according to a Blue House pool official.

The unscheduled meeting, the sources said, underscored the need for the two sides "to work closely to continue to remind South Korea that it should not move any closer towards North Korea".

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Moon has invited Kim and other senior North Korean officials to a luncheon at Seoul's presidential palace on Saturday. Pence said the United States and South Korea were closely aligned in their approach to dealing with North Korea.

Speaking at his swearing in ceremony past year, Moon said he would be willing to travel to Pyongyang "under the right conditions", adding that "for peace on the Korean Peninsula, I will do everything that I can do".

The smiles and handshakes at the meeting were friendlier than some of the North's past history with the complex - in 1968 it sent commandos to attack it to try to assassinate the South's then leader.

After months of silence on whether it would even take part in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in the South, the Games have driven a rapprochement on the peninsula, while the North's athletes, performers and delegates have dominated the headlines.

The two sides stressed on Saturday that they were interested in maintaining movement toward peace.

The vice president's visit was also marked by bad blood between Pence and some USA athletes.

On Thursday, North Korea said its official delegation to the PyeongChang Olympics had no intention of meetings its US counterpart.

"I'm too old to get giddy about things anymore", Keep said during the same call, laughing. To accommodate the North Koreans, she scratched three of her South Korean players - Lee Eunji, Lee Yeon Jeong and Jung Siyun.

The appearance by the celeb-mimicking pranksters clearly touched a nerve at a politically intense time for the US, North Korea and South Korea. "It's not just that they're normalizing North Korea, they're trying to find some sort of connection".


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    Meanwhile a joint hockey team and a cheerleading squad has generated warm feelings, at least at the Olympics . Kim Yo Jong told the South Korean President: "We would like to see you at an early date in Pyongyang".
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    In a tweet, he reasserted the sceptical view taken his administration regarding recent conciliatory gestures by North Korea. Pence did say, however, that Moon shared with him details of his meeting with North Korean leaders, without elaborating.


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