Pence wrapping up Olympic visit to South Korea

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A North Korean delegation, the highest-ranking to visit the South and led by the younger sister of the North's leader Kim Jong Un, concluded its visit on Sunday after charming and intriguing the South Korean public, but still faces deep skepticism over Pyongyang's sincerity towards improving relations. South Korea's presidential Blue House also had no immediate comment.

During their meeting President Moon was pictured smiling and shaking hands with Kim Yo Jong.

As the Trump administration's "maximum pressure" campaign heats up, it increasingly appears effective as fuel prices soar and businesses on both sides of the China-North Korea border fold.

Any meeting would represent a diplomatic coup for Moon, who swept to power previous year on a policy of engaging more with the reclusive North and has pushed for a diplomatic solution to the standoff over North Korea's nuclear and missile program.

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International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said the display sent "a powerful message of peace". The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

However, South Korea's main opposition party warned any talks between the two Koreas where the scrapping of North Korea's nuclear programme was not a precondition would only "benefit the enemy".

The communist state has test-fired numerous missiles, including three ICBMs in recent months, and conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test September 3, prompting the U.N. Security Council to impose its toughest sanctions yet in a bid to get the North to stop.

Pence spoke in an interview on his way home from the Winter Olympics.

White House officials and other critics believe North Korea is trying to use the global stage to gain sympathy and ease punishing economic sanctions and diplomatic pressure that are beginning to bite.

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The North Korean delegation was invited to lunch with South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon at the five-star Walkerhill Hotel in eastern Seoul on Sunday, an official at the prime minister's office told Reuters.

Instead, Pence arrived late to a reception for delegation leaders Friday and stayed for just five minutes - without interacting with the North Koreans.

The two Koreas, which remain technically at war since their 1950-53 conflict ended in an armistice instead of a peace treaty, have only had two previous summits.

Others chanted 'Let's tear Kim Jong-un to death!' while tearing up a picture of the North Korean leader.

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She was apparently referring to the challenge in coordinating policy toward North Korea after its recent surprise offer of an inter-Korean summit.

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