Pence's bid to isolate North Korea at Olympics falls flat

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These officials said that while Pence did not greet Kim Yong Nam, he didn't deliberately skip over him.

Pence, who is leading the US delegation to the Olympics, has accused Pyongyang of using the event for its own ends.

On Saturday, Kim Yo Jong and other North Korean delegates will have lunch with Moon at the presidential Blue House.

The vice president will move to the country's eastern alpine town of PyeongChang later in the day to join the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics, which will be held from Friday through February 25.

In a historic move, South Korean President Moon Jae-in welcomed senior North Korean officials, including leader Kim Jong-un's sister Kim Yo-jong, to the presidential palace for a lunch meeting on Saturday.

Mr Pence had kept open the possibility for some contact with the North Koreans in South Korea, while reiterating Washington's insistence that denuclearisation by North Korea is a necessary condition for permanent peace.

The pair of national leaders have been known to trade threats of nuclear war over the past year.

Moon and Kim Yong Nam, the North's ceremonial head of state, will jointly attend the unified Korean women's ice hockey team's first match later Saturday evening.

North Korea, US To Maintain Standoff During Winter Olympics
During the meetings, Moon should tell them that the worldwide community will never accept North Korea as a nuclear power. The Japanese government can not afford to sit back and do nothing in response to Kim Yo Jong's visit to South Korea .

Pence spokeswoman Alyssa Farah says Pence visited with guests at several tables at Friday's reception, "but did not come across the North Korean delegation".

The North has sent almost 500 people to the Pyeongchang Games.

Officials traveling with Pence said it would be fair to characterize his failure to interact with the North Koreans as a mutual decision, with neither side making any public overtures.

Pence arrived in Seoul on Thursday leading a USA delegation to the Winter Olympics hosted by South Korea. They stressed the North Koreans in the VIP box had watched Pence, Moon and Abe hold a running discussion in the front row for the more than two-hour ceremonies. Jo Yong Sam, department director general of North Korea's foreign ministry, said Thursday the country had never "begged the US for dialogue" and wasn't about to start now. He also said the ceremonies were not the appropriate venue for serious talks.

Saturday's meeting follows a brief encounter between the two parties Friday at the Olympics Opening Ceremony, in which Moon twice shook hands with Kim Yo Jong.

The sister of the North Korean leader has arrived in South Korea, dressed in a black coat and absorbing a barrage of camera flashes.

Analysts say the North's decision Kim Yo Jong to the Olympics shows an ambition to break out from diplomatic isolation and pressure by improving relations with the South, which it could use as a bridge for approaching the United States.

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