By Alastair Wanklyn
North Korea has invited the South to a summit, in a further sign of a thaw on the Korean Peninsula. The developments come as athletes from the two sides continue to compete as a unified team at the Winter Olympics now underway in the South.
The invitation came in the form of a letter from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. It was handed to South Korea's president by Kim's sister, acting as an envoy.
Kim reportedly urged his counterpart, Moon Jae-in, to sit down with him in Pyongyang as soon as possible. Such a meeting would be only the third in almost 70 years.
Moon was quoted saying he's ready to meet, if conditions are right. He urged the North to resume talks with the United States.
Washington is sceptical about the North's intentions. Talk of dialogue comes just days after a parade in Pyongyang showed off heavy missiles on trucks. And last year on three occasions the North test-fired potential long-range nuclear missiles.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, also visiting South Korea for the Olympic Games, called on Sunday for "maximum pressure and sanctions."
Pence reportedly avoided contact with the North Korean delegation.
Winter Olympic Games
Meanwhile, the two Koreas continue to field a unified team at the Olympics. The gesture appears to build on Moon's policy of openness towards the North. He said he would keep the door open to the North's participation until the eleventh hour.
Some in South Korea disagree with that approach. On Sunday in Seoul, several hundred protesters accused Moon of being too soft on the North. They tore photos of Kim Jong-un.