South Korean foreign ministry remains determined that inter-Korea talks are a key component to push forward towards the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula but given the uncertainties surrounding the Kim Jong-un regime, the situation remains as unpredictable as ever.

Seoul said it is necessary for inter-Korea and US-North Korea talks to take place to kick-start a "virtual cycle" of improving relations between the rival Koreas. The foreign ministry insisted the North's dialogue with the outside is the "major pillar" for any significant progress in the region.

"We will push to enter into full-fledged dialogue while maintaining inter-Korean and US-North Korea talks as major pillars," said the ministry. "We will seek consensus from the international community on the need to create a virtuous cycle, in that improving inter-Korean relations could translate into finding a solution to the North's nuclear problem."

In a rare gesture, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has invited South Korean President Moon Jae-in to hold inter-Korean dialogue in Pyongyang. Kim's sister, Kim Yo-jong, personally delivered the message as she was in Seoul for the Winter Olympics. But, Seoul had so far responded cautiously to the invitation so as to not anger the US, which is still wary of any direct engagement with Pyongyang.

Moon had responded to North Korea's invitation with both optimism and caution as he is expected to walk a fine diplomatic line over the matter. This will also be challenging for the Moon administration given the continuing approach by the US, South Korea's key ally, to exert maximum pressure on North Korea to abandon its weapons programmes.

Following on her ministry's comments, South Korea's Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha told lawmakers in the assembly: "To this end, the government will make efforts through various channels to persuade the North to come out for talks with the US and also discuss detailed ways with the US on a possible resumption of bilateral talks."

Remarks from the South Korean side have come at a time it has emerged the reclusive Kim-regime had cancelled possible high-ranking talks with the US at the last-minute. Top-level delegates from both sides were present in South Korea at the same time for the Winter Olympics but Pyongyang had abandoned the call for dialogue in the final hours.

"At the last minute, DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] officials decided not to go forward with the meeting. We regret their failure to seize this opportunity," said the US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert.

She added Vice President Mike Pence "was ready to take this opportunity to drive home the necessity of North Korea abandoning its illicit ballistic missile and nuclear programs".

From the North Korea side, the leader's sister Kim Yo-jong, a close aide of the leadership, was part of the 500-strong delegation, which also included the hermit kingdom's titular head of state.

Kim Jong-un sister pregnant
Im Jong-seok, the Chief Presidential Secretary for President of South Korea Moon Jae-in, greets Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un, during a banquet at a hotel in Seoul, South Korea Reuters