Mike Pence didn't snub North Koreans deliberately, officials say

"South Korean President Moon Jae-in is pro-Pyongyang and he has used the Winter Olympics to protect North Korea from the pressure that was being applied by Japan and the USA", said Kazuhiro Araki, who heads the Unidentified Persons Investigation Committee at NARKN, the National Association for the Rescue of Japanese Kidnapped by North Korea. Over the course of the summit, which also included Kim Yong-nam (North Korea's ceremonial head of state) and Ri Son-gwon (North Korea's chief negotiator), Ms. Kim passed a handwritten note from her brother to South Korea's President.

The lunch Saturday at Seoul's presidential mansion between Moon and Kim Yo Jong was the most significant diplomatic encounter between the rivals in years.

In a surreal mixture of dignitaries, the Olympic Stadium's VIP box included Kim Yo Jong and North Korea's nominal head of state, Kim Yong Nam, sitting above and behind U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and fellow hard-liner Shinzo Abe, Japan's prime minister.

Attempts made to break the ice between North and South Korea as the Winter Games are declared open At an Olympic dinner reception created to break the ice between two nations still technically at war, the dessert said it all.

They stood from their seats and, smiling, shook each other by the hand.

"We should firmly keep in mind any talks where denuclearisation is not a precondition only buy North Korea more time to complete its nuclear capabilities while they fool us with their peace offensive façade", said Chang Je-won, spokesman for the Liberty Korea Party. It is not every day when a senior US and North Korean official are in the same venue - let alone sitting in the same section of the bleachers.

But the rapprochement pushed by the dovish Moon has angered conservatives, who accuse him of being a North Korea sympathiser and undermining the security alliance with the US.

"What can not be overlooked is that Moon did not directly demand North Korea to abandon its nuclear development".

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After taking in tigers, drum brigades and national parades during the Opening Ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, folks in South Korea were treated to another made-for-TV event: an historic meeting between high-ranking officials from both halves of the Korean Peninsula. He had an opening to clarify to Kim what the United States wants, what it expects, and what would occur if he was stupid enough to attack the USA or its allies in Northeast Asia.

Even if there are more meetings between the rivals after the Games, accomplishing something is another matter.

But Moon, a liberal who has always wanted to engage the North, will also have to convince a good portion of his own people who are deeply wary about North Korean intentions. Where Moon and Ms. Kim reportedly exchanged pleasantries about the frosty weather, Pence offered her little more than a cold shoulder while seated next to her at the Opening Ceremony.

That stance, though, could complicate South Korea's relations with the United States.

They seem to have gone unheeded.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in hosted talks with the delegation on Saturday in the hope that improving relations between the two countries could help resolve differences over the North's nuclear and missile programmes.

"It seems clear", he said, "that the countries have entered a phase of restoring a regular level of contact".

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