March 22, 2018

North Korean leader's sister to watch joint Korean hockey team

10 February 2018, 10:38 | Taylor George

Both Sports Illustrated and The Associated Press predict Jessie Diggins will medal at the Olympics. Harry How | Getty Images 2014

Jessica Diggins

The delegations shared a lunch of dried pollack dumpling soup, a regional speciality of the only divided province on the Korean peninsula, and soju, a spirit popular on both sides of the heavily militarised border.

Pence avoided public criticism of Moon, congratulating South Korea on hosting the Olympics but privately, officials said, he expressed concern about Moon's more conciliatory tone toward North Korea.

The two Koreas have engaged in a flurry of sports diplomacy after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un extended a rare olive branch to Seoul in his New Year's message.

White House officials told Politico that Pence and Moon sat together during the opening ceremony to show the strong alliance between their two countries and the vice president chose not to move after sitting near the North Korea delegation.

Vice President Mike Pence did not deliberately snub North Koreans at an Olympic reception, according to U.S. officials who pushed back on South Korean reports that Pence deliberately came late to a VIP gathering Friday evening and then snubbed officials from Pyongyang.

Earlier Friday, the North's high-level delegation, which includes Kim Yong Nam and Kim Jong Un's younger sister, Kim Yo Jong, arrived in South Korea.

Mr Pence stood to welcome the USA athletes as the Korean pop hit "Gangnam Style" blared around the stadium, sparking the "Horse Dance" in the crowd and among the volunteers.

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Kim Jong Un invites South Korea's leader to Pyongyang for talks
It is extremely rare for a Japanese prime minister to communicate with a high-ranking official from North Korea's ruling party. It was not immediately reported whether the North Korean leader's sister would attend the evening match against Switzerland.

"We are determined to make sure that even in the midst of the powerful background & idealism of the Olympics, the World is reminded of the truth about North Korea", Pence tweeted on Friday.

A Blue House official said Moon "practically accepted" the invitation. Rumors are swirling that she could be carrying an offer for Moon to travel to North Korea.

South Korean President Moon Jae In and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vowed yesterday to improve frayed ties between the United States allies, both of them threatened by nuclear-armed North Korea.

"Kim Jong Un is clearly serious about reviving talks with the South to improve relations", said Koh Yu-hwan, a North Korea expert at Seoul's Dongguk University and a security adviser to Moon. Later Saturday night, they all joined the chief of the International Olympic Committee to watch the debut of the inter-Korean team in the women's ice hockey tournament. The United States fought with South Korea and maintains tens of thousands of troops and an "ironclad" agreement to protect its ally.

"The North Koreans should understand that for a summit or any kind of serious talks to occur, Moon needs to be able to take something to Washington - something that addresses denuclearisation", he said before the North's invitation to Moon was announced.

It was in keeping with his determined effort to turn a cold shoulder to what he's called North Korea's "propaganda" around the games in South Korea.

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