Kim Yo-jong meets South Korean president in Seoul as thaw continues

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un invited South Korean President Moon Jae-in to Pyongyang "at an early date", South Korean officials said on Saturday, potentially setting up the first meeting of Korean leaders in more than 10 years.

The luncheon at the Blue House came after Kim Yo Jong and other North Korean delegates attended the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, which has brought a temporary lull in tensions over the North's nuclear program.

Some North Korean experts believe tough United Nations sanctions that are cutting off most of the isolated North's sources of revenue have added pressure on Pyongyang to engage further with Seoul.

Moon did not immediately accept the invitation.

But the agreement made little headway after the North carried out a series of nuclear and missile tests, and after conservative presidents took office in the South, adopting a harder line on Pyongyang.

Kim is an increasingly prominent figure in her brother's government and the first member of the North's ruling family to visit the South since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War. The first liberal president in a decade, Moon during his inauguration speech past year that he would be willing to visit Pyongyang and meet with Kim Jong-un if that helps solve the nuclear problem.

South Korean television showed a smiling Moon entering a reception room and shaking hands with the North Koreans, who also included Choe Hwi, chairman of the country's National Sports Guidance Committee, and Ri Son Gwon, chairman of the North's agency that deals with inter-Korean affairs.

The North Koreans and Moon were watching the Koreas' unified women's ice hockey team's first match against Switzerland as it began late Saturday.

Mr. Pence was reported to have said he reached the new understanding with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who has been pushing for diplomatic solution to the standoff over North Koreas nuclear and missile programs, in two substantive conversations during his visit to South Korea.

Moon urged Pyongyang to actively seek an "absolutely necessary" dialogue with Washington, he said. "The North is not interested in talks on denuclearisation".

"The South Korean media has gone a bit gaga over her", Mr. Breen said.

For President Moon, the invitation is an affirmation of his desire to have North Korean participation at a "Peace Olympics", and marks another indication of détente after Mr. Kim, in a New Year's address, expressed a wish to "melt the frozen North-South relations".

Kim Yo Jong, the younger sister of Kim Jong Un, "courteously" handed over a personal letter from the North Korean leader to Moon during talks on Saturday and also told Moon of her brother's "intention", KCNA said, without elaborating on what that was. Pence and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sat nearby, looking expressionless. "The world cannot turn a blind eye to the oppression & threats of the Kim regime".

Moon is eager to use Kim Yo Jong's presence at the games to restore regular communication with North Korea and eventually pull it into nuclear talks.

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



Other news