As Olympics Open, Moon's Warm Words for Pyongyang Alarm South Korea's Allies

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence meet at the South's presidential office Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on Feb. 8 2018

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence meet at the South's presidential office Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on Feb. 8 2018

Kim is an honorary ambassador of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics and the 2010 Winter Olympics women's figure skating gold medalist. Pence was also at the dinner and reportedly refused to shake the elderly North Korean's hand.

While preparations for the Pyeongchang Games have involved dialogue and displays of unity between the two Koreas, Abe said he and Moon repeated that there is a need to continue to press the North over its nuclear weapons and missile development programs, as agreed between Japan and the United States.

"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.

During Pence's visit, Moon assured the vice president he would tell the North Koreans clearly that they would not get economic or diplomatic concessions for just talking, only for taking concrete steps toward denuclearization, the newspaper said.

The Secretary-General had a brief exchange with Kim on the sidelines of the opening of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Farhan Haq, UN deputy spokesman, told reporters at UN Headquarters in NY, reports Xinhua.

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.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's sister headed home Sunday night after a whirlwind three days in South Korea, where she sat among world dignitaries at the Olympics and tossed a diplomatic offer to the South aimed at ending seven decades of hostility.

Pence is in South Korea, where he is leading the US delegation to the games' opening ceremonies.

The delegation's most substantive event may come outside of the Olympic ambit on Saturday. "I thought things would be unusual and very different, but I found a lot of things being similar", Kim said while proposing a toast at Sunday's dinner, according to Moon's office.

Before departing Japan for Korea earlier Thursday, Pence warned that past attempts to pursue openings with the North have been met with "wilful deception, broken promises, and endless and escalating provocations".

Several defectors shared their stories with the vice president, including Ji Seong-ho, who said reading the Bible helped her decide to flee from North Korea in 1998.

South and North Korea technically remain at war, since the Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty.

But during her stay, Kim Yo Jong will have ample opportunity to play up the feel-good side of her country's participation in the games.

In previous years, North and South Korea have held reunions to bring together family members who have been separated by the war. The North has also sent a several hundred women-strong cheering squad, an orchestra with singers and dancers and a demonstration taekwondo team that will perform in Seoul and places near the Olympic venues.

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

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