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Pence says USA is willing to have talks with North Korea

Pence says USA is willing to have talks with North Korea

Indeed, South Korea, with USA concurrence, was magnanimous in its invitation to North Korea to join the South for the Winter Olympics as part of a joint Korea Olympics team, while also halting scheduled joint U.S.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met members of the Samjiyon orchestra that had performed at the ongoing PyeongChang Winter Olympics in South Korea and congratulated them on their success, state media reported on Tuesday.

The Weekly Standard detailed that South Korea believes "unification" to be relationship-building centered around the goal of bringing North Korea into South Korea's "democratic, capitalist system".

The two Koreas have engaged in a flurry of sports diplomacy since Kim Jong-un extended a rare olive branch to Seoul in his New Year's Day message, vowing to send a delegation to the Games.

Reportedly schooled in Switzerland, the youngest daughter of former leader Kim Jong Il was promoted by her brother to the country's top decision-making body in October.

The IOC and the two Koreas signed a tripartite agreement on January 20 in Lausanne that set out the details of North Korea's Olympic participation, including the number of athletes, the sports they would take part in as well as their joint march.

South Korea and the US had been out of step, with Seoul wanting inter-Korean Olympic talks to lead to real negotiations while Washington stuck to its pressure campaign.

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"The vice president is grateful that President Moon reaffirmed his strong commitment to the global maximum pressure campaign and for his support for continued sanctions", Pence spokeswoman Alyssa Farah said when asked about the development. "But if you want to talk, we'll talk", he added.

"I know that people are watching for a wedge between South Korea, Republic of Korea, in other words and the United States", Mattis told reporters on a flight to Rome.

North Korea has made clear that it does not intend to negotiate away its nuclear and missile programs in return for relief from global sanctions.

The ministry said South Korea is also seeking to lower military tensions with its northern neighbor. Two members of the unified women's hockey team - one from each side - climbed together up the stairs to relay the torch for igniting the flame in the Olympic Stadium.

Throughout his visit, observers said Pence seemed uncomfortable with the warm welcome the North Korean delegation received from the South. As the Winter Games enter full swing, the North Korean missile threat still looms and the systematic and widespread human violations of the dictator-state continue.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in December the US was ready to talk without preconditions, only to have the White House nix the notion. Until recently, Trump administration officials insisted no such meetings would take place until the North had first taken steps toward disarmament.

North Korea's Rodong Sinmun newspaper, meanwhile, called the delegation's visit a meaningful opportunity to improve bilateral relations and create a peaceful environment on the peninsula.