Pence avoids greeting North Korean official at Olympic reception

Pence avoids greeting North Korean official at Olympic reception
© Greg Nash

Vice President Pence briefly attended an Olympic reception in Pyeongchang, South Korea, on Thursday, which was also attended by North Korea's ceremonial head of state, Kim Yong Nam. 

Pence shook hands with every leader at the reception except Kim, according to a pool report from South Korea's presidential Blue House. 

According to Reuters, Pence was supposed to sit across from the North Korean official at the reception. However, the Blue House said the vice president only stayed briefly and greeted other officials before leaving.

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Washington Post Tokyo bureau chief Anna Fifield reported Pence had shown up late after the dinner had begun and there was no seat for him.  

The Hill has reached out to the vice president's office for comment. 

Relations between North Korea and the United States have worsened over the past year as the country develops its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. 

The United Nations Security Council and the U.S. have placed a slew of sanctions on North Korea in response to repeated intercontinental ballistic missile launches.

But tensions between North and South Korea have eased thanks to the Winter Olympics.

North Korea said earlier this year that it was open to talks with South Korea and ultimately made the decision to send a delegation of athletes to the games.

Pence is leading the U.S. delegation in Pyeongchang and has said he is open to meeting with North Korean officials.