Abe and Moon show unity as Winter Games open

Shinzo Abe says US Japan

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence made only a brief appearance at a reception marking the start of the Winter Olympics on Friday, avoiding a potentially awkward encounter with the ceremonial leader of North Korea attending the same event, APA reports quoting Reuters. Another focal point is whether Kim Yo Jong has any message for Moon from her brother.

Vice President Mike Pence says the U.S.is demanding that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un place on the table the prospect of his country giving up its nuclear weapons as a precondition for supporting any substantive talks between the two Koreas.

Attention is on how much Moon will urge the North to improve inter-Korean ties and to abandon its nuclear and missile programs.

"Our objective here today is to stand with our allies, but it's also to stand up for the truth, and to recognize that whatever images may emerge against the powerful backdrop and idealism of the Olympics, that North Korea has to accept change", he said.

The nuclear-armed North's delegation is the diplomatic highlight of an Olympics-driven rapprochement on the divided peninsula.

Before Pence arrived, Moon's office announced he will meet with Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

She and Kim Yong Nam, the North's 90-year-old nominal head of state, were seated behind Moon and his wife, while Pence and his wife were seated beside the Moons and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

But South Korea's presidential Blue House said Pence had a meeting scheduled with US athletes and had only planned to stay briefly to greet other officials.

Abe discussed North Korea's nuclear and missile programs and brought up the issue of Japanese nationals who were abducted by the North decades ago when he shook hands and briefly spoke with Kim Yong Nam during the dinner hosted by Moon in Pyeongchang, the Kyodo News service quoted the Japanese government as saying. The meeting could turn out to be just a lunch, a photo op or a nicety.

For Abe, it looked as if Moon was acting more cordially to North Korea than to Japan.

U.S. vice-president Mike Pence, who was seated in the same box, did not interact with the North Koreans at any point, USA officials said.

There is speculation Pyongyang could invite Mr Moon to visit for a summit later this year.

The U.S. -led worldwide community has been tightening the screws on North Korea with sanctions created to punish its economy and rein in its efforts to expand its nuclear weapons and missile program, which now includes developmental long-range missiles targeting the U.S. mainland.

Security for anything involving the North Koreans has been exceptionally tight.

However, fans were touched by the North Korean coaches who came out to encourage Kim.

North Korean senior officials Kim Ki Nam and Kim Yang Gon also visited the Blue House in 2009 and met with Roh's conservative successor Lee Myung-bak after leading a delegation to the South to pay respects at the funeral of former liberal South Korean President Kim Dae-jung, who held the first inter-Korean summit with Kim Jong Il in 2000.

So far, police have kept the two at a safe distance.

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