South Korea says North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has invited President Moon Jae-in for a summit meeting in the North.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and North Korean officials have attended a pre-Olympic opening ceremony reception hosted by South Korean President Moon Jae-in, but did not meet face-to-face.
The personal invitation from Kim was delivered by his younger sister, Kim Yo Jong, during talks and a lunch Moon hosted at the presidential Blue House in Seoul. But the prospect could sow division between the dovish leader, who has long argued for engagement with the nuclear-armed North to bring it to the negotiating table, and US President Donald Trump, who previous year traded personal insults and threats of war with Kim.
The Trump administration is cautious of Seoul falling for North Korea's charm offensive during the Winter Olympics, which are taking place amid tension over Pyongyang's nuclear programme.
A massive military parade in Pyongyang on the eve of the just-opened Pyeongchang Games has been used as Exhibit A by skeptics.
Kim Yo Jong and Kim Yong Nam arrived Friday afternoon, leading a senior delegation.
Even so, there's also cautious optimism, or curiosity at least. "No one else in leadership can bring messages directly to Kim Jong Un".
Moon responded to the invitation by suggesting the two countries "should accomplish this by creating the right conditions", adding that talks between North Korea and the United States were also needed, and requested that North Korea be more active in talking with the USA, according to Kim Eui-kyeom.
Moon has supported US -led sanctions against the North, but he has repeatedly called for dialogue.
Saturday's meeting, the most significant diplomatic encounter between the two sides in more than a decade, could now be surpassed should Moon accept Kim's invitation to visit Pyongyang later this year.
Although Kim Yo Jong ranks diplomatically lower than Kim Yong Nam, as Kim Jong Un's sister she is considered more important in North Korea.
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Her arrival on Kim Jong Un's private jet with a coterie of 22 officials was broadcast live on South Korean television.
Saturday's meeting also involved the North's ceremonial head of state, Kim Yong-nam, who led what apparently turned out to be a 21-member delegation to the opening ceremony of the PyeongChang Olympics on Friday.
That was not the case with Moon - either at the games, when he enthusiastically reached up to shake Kim Yo Jong's hand, or at the lunch the next day.
But privately, officials said, Pence expressed concern to Moon about his more conciliatory tone toward North Korea.
The opening part of the talks was mostly about the weather: Pyeongchang was colder than Seoul, it was agreed.
At the luncheon proposed a toast, calling for peace and "mutual prosperity" for the two Koreas.
Pence warned before departing Japan earlier Thursday that past attempts to pursue openings with the North have been met with "willful deception, broken promises and endless and escalating provocations".
Moon urged Pyongyang to actively seek an "absolutely necessary" dialogue with Washington, he said.
Kim Yo Jong said she hopes to see Moon in Pyongyang soon so that he and her brother could "exchange views over many issues", which she said would make "North-South relations develop like yesterday was a long time ago".
At the opening ceremony, Pence and the North Koreans, who were seated in the row behind him, studiously ignored each other, even as Moon and his wife turned around to greet the North Koreans warmly.
Kim Yo Jong has been rapidly rising within the North's power structure and is believed to be in charge of shaping her brother's public persona.