Kim Jong-un's influential sister to visit South Korea for Winter Olympics

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's sister, an increasingly prominent figure in the country's leadership, will be part of the North's delegation to the South Korean Winter Olympics, officials said Wednesday.

Moon will also hold a lunch with the North Korean delegation, his spokesman, Kim Eui-kyeom, told a media briefing.

If Pence were to meet Kim Yong Nam, he would be the most senior USA official to meet a North Korean leader since President Bill Clinton met Vice Marshal Jo Myong Rok, a special envoy of Kim Jong Un's father Kim Jong Il, at the White House in October 2000.

Pence says the goal of his trip is to ensure the North can't "hijack" the games, and his schedule includes symbolic events created to highlight North Korea's human rights abuses and nuclear program.

As he warns the world against falling for North Korea's diplomatic overtures around the Winter Olympics, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence tells American service members to "be vigilant".

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However, on a stop in Alaska en route to Japan, Pence left open the possibility of a face-to-face with senior North Korean officials who are also attending Friday's ceremony in South Korea.

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN. Kim Yo Jong, believed to be around 30, will be the first member of North Korea's ruling family to visit South Korea since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.

Kim Yong Nam is president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, while the reclusive country is ruled by Kim Jong Un, the third-generation hereditary leader.

"The United States of America will soon unveil the toughest and most aggressive round of economic sanctions on North Korea ever - and we will continue to isolate North Korea until it abandons its nuclear and ballistic missile programs once and for all", Pence said.

Trump has repeatedly said that talking to North Korea is "not the answer" and a "waste of time".

More news: Hyundai unveils sketches of next-generation Santa Fe SUV

The almost identical comments by Pence and Tillerson expressing openness to a meeting with the North Koreans appeared deliberate and coordinated.

Pope Francis said on Wednesday the participation of North Korean athletes in the Olympics raised hopes for reconciliation on the Korean peninsula and that the Vatican was ready to back any peace initiative.

As his personal guest at the opening ceremony of the games, Pence invited Fred Warmbier, the father of Otto Warmbier, an American who died previous year days after his release from captivity in North Korea.

South Korea's Unification Ministry said Wednesday that the government is reviewing whether to meet North Korea's request to provide fuel to the ferry.

In an effort to improve inter-Korean relations, South Korea has allowed increase access to North Koreans, but such a high-level delegation runs the risk of bumping up against an absolute ban on luxury goods to Pyongyang. Her presence, along with North Korea's formal head of state Kim Yong Nam, opened up the possibility of informal talks with USA officials.

More news: Olympics buff Leslie Jones returning to NBC's Winter Games coverage

About 3 million South Koreans are estimated to have invested in cryptocurrencies and the country is home to one of the world's biggest private bitcoin exchanges.


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