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N Korea notes ‘warm talks’ with S Korea’s Moon, no mention of summit

SEOUL: North Korea's state news agency said yesterday its delegation sent to the Winter Olympics held"frank and candid" talks with South Korean President Moon Jae In but there was no mention of the North's invitation to Mr Moon to Pyongyang for a summit.

The delegation, the highest-ranking to visit the South, concluded its visit later the same day having charmed and intrigued the South Korean public, but still faces deep scepticism over the North's sincerity towards improving relations.

Any summit between the two still-officially warring Koreas would be a coup for Mr Moon, who has been pushing for a diplomatic solution to the standoff over North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes.

Ms Kim Yo Jong, the younger sister of Kim Jong Un,"courteously" handed over a personal letter from the North Korean leader to Mr Moon during talks on Saturday and also told Mr Moon of her brother's "intention", KCNA said, without elaborating on what that was.

South Korean officials have said Mr Moon was invited to Pyongyang to speak with Mr Kim Jong Un during the talks and lunch that Mr Moon hosted at the presidential Blue House in Seoul on Saturday.

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Such a summit, if it came about, would mark the first time that leaders of the two Koreas have met since 2007.

Mr Moon and Kim Yo Jong will have another opportunity to talk when they attend the second and final performance by a visiting North Korean orchestra on Sunday evening in Seoul, a Blue House official said.

US Vice-President Mike Pence, who has left South Korea for Washington, said the United States, South Korea and Japan were in complete agreement on isolating North Korea over its nuclear weapons programme.

"There is no daylight between the United States, the Republic of Korea and Japan on the need to continue to isolate North Korea economically and diplomatically until they abandon their nuclear and ballistic missile programme," Mr Pence told reporters during the return flight to the US.

A White House official said that, although Mr Moon did not discuss the invitation with Mr Pence on Saturday, the South Korean president made it very clear that only when North Korea actually starts to take steps to denuclearise would anyone even consider beginning to take the pressure off. - REUTERS

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