North Korea invites South Korean president to visit

South Korean President Moon Jae-in toasts North Korea's ceremonial head of States Kim Yong-nam in a reception held in Yongpyeong 200 kilometers east of Seoul just before the opening of the Pyeong Chang Winter Olympic Games on Feb. 9 2018. (Yonh

And at the Olympics itself, the North and South are competing as a unified "All Korean" team - marching under one flag at the Opening Ceremony and playing together at the ice hockey tournament.

Pence is leading the US delegation to the opening ceremonies, where he has worked to pour cold water on warming ties between the two Koreas.

Always flanked by thick groups of bodyguards, Kim Yo Jong commanded attention wherever she went, walking among throngs of journalists with a quiet poise and occasionally shooting an enigmatic smile at cameras.

Meanwhile, US Vice President Mike Pence has insisted the United States, South Korea and Japan are in complete agreement over their strategy of isolating the North.

The unification ministry said the North's art troupe will return home across the land border, via the Gyeongui Line, around noon Monday.

The North Korean cheerleaders charmed the crowd with nostalgic oldies.

"The grievances that the world has about North Korea are very legitimate".

And he warned that the USA "has viable military options to deal with a nuclear threat from North Korea but, that being said, we hope for a better path".

South Korea accepted North Korea's demand to transport more than 100 art troupe members by sea, using the Mangyongbong-92 ferryboat as an exception to the maritime sanctions it imposed on the North, which is a controversial move amid concerns that the North is trying to use the Olympics to squirm out of worldwide sanctions.

Pence had not been trying to avoid the North Koreans at the Olympic opening ceremony but had been trying to ignore them, the senior administration official said, adding that the North Koreans weren't the reason Pence was there. Pence appeared to leave the door open for negotiations earlier this week when he said, "I haven't requested any meeting".

The Games in Pyeongchang, however, do stand out for one big reason: the massive sporting event is taking the form of a detente between North and South Korea, a minor easing of inter-Korean tensions that have plagued the bilateral relationship since the previous South Korean government shut down the joint industrial complex in Kaesong and Pyongyang stopped answering South Korea's calls. The ongoing rapprochement mood flared after Kim Jong Un said in his New Year's Day address that he was willing to send an Olympic delegation.

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 U.S., according to Kim Eui-kyeom. Moon and Abe met Friday hours before the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

Moon sees the Olympics as an opportunity to restore meaningful communication with North Korea after an extended diplomatic stalemate over its nuclear ambitions. About 800 conservative protesters gathered in central Seoul to tear up photos of Kim Jong Un and condemn Moon for being too soft on North Korea.

Kim Yong Nam on Friday took a picture with Moon and his wife Kim Jung-sook before entering the reception room.

Moon responded by saying he hopes the right environment will be created so the meeting between the two leaders could occur, an apparent reference to demands by the US and other allies that the North abandon its nuclear weapons program.

"Sending his sister with an invite for Moon to Pyongyang is well played by Kim Jong Un", said James Schoff, a Korea expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington.

The 28-year-old is a crucial part of the North's Games delegation led by Kim Yong Nam, North Korea's nominal head of state.

According to the Blue House, Kim Jong Un wanted to meet Moon "in the near future" and would like for him to visit North Korea "at his earliest convenience", his sister told Moon.

"Make no mistake about it, the United States of America has viable military options to deal with a nuclear threat from North Korea but, that being said, we hope for a better path", he said.

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