N. Korean leader invites S. Korea's Moon to the North--president's office

That is the assessment of a former South Korean government minister and political experts who say the North has used the Games to drive a wedge between South Korea and its USA ally and to potentially ease pressure on its sanctions-crippled state.

North Korea's Alpine skiing coach says it's an "honour" to compete at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, though he doesn't expect much from any of his athletes.

Leaders of North and South Korea have only met on two previous occasions.

Kim's presence at the Olympics has presented people in South Korea and beyond with something new to know about North Korea.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, who has left South Korea for Washington, said the United States, South Korea and Japan were in complete agreement on isolating North Korea over its nuclear weapons programme.

The North has sent almost 500 people to the Pyeongchang Games, including officials, athletes, artists and also a 230-member state-trained cheering group after the Koreas agreed to a series of conciliatory gestures for the games. The North also a year ago conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test to date.

Moon told Kim Yo Jong that the North and South should continue to build conditions for a summit, Moon spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom said.

Moon's desire to engage North Korea was in contrast to his USA ally.

She verbally conveyed Kim's invitation to Moon "to visit the North at his most convenient time", he added. Pence and the Kims seemed to go out of their way not to acknowledge each other. U.S. President Donald Trump and the North Korean leadership traded insults as tensions rose.

The opening part of the talks was mostly about the weather: Pyeongchang was colder than Seoul, it was agreed.

"Moon's objective should be to smooth the way for America and North Korea to be talking", he said. Analysts say that the missiles, which were successfully flight tested three times a year ago, could potentially reach deep into the US mainland when perfected.

Kim also delivered her brother's offer for a summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

She's not what we expected: not stiff, but smiling.

After sitting at a table, Kim Yo Jong placed a blue document folder in front of her. Officials didn't reveal what was written in it.

The North Korean delegates later Saturday may attend the debut of the first-ever inter-Korean Olympic team at the women's ice hockey tournament in Gangneung. The Koreans were crushed by Switzerland, 8-0.

Moon did not immediately accept the invitation.

"We're going to continue to put all the pressure to bear economically and diplomatically, while preserving all of our military options to see that that happens", Pence said.

The meeting led to a series of reunions of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War, as well as the launch of a joint factory park in the North's border town of Kaesong in 2004.

An editorial in the Yomiuri Newspaper read: "What can not be overlooked is that Moon did not directly demand North Korea to abandon its nuclear development". A big one could be a demand to cease the U.S.

Are these Winter Games having the effect South Korea had hoped, in thawing relations with the north?

But Moon, a liberal who has always wanted to engage the North, will also have to convince a good portion of his own people who are deeply wary about North Korean intentions. "It is important to move forward with the drills as planned", Abe said, according to South's presidential Blue House.

Even if there are more meetings between the rivals after the Games, accomplishing something is another matter.

Pence said the United States and South Korea were closely aligned in their approach to dealing with North Korea. Pence and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sat nearby, looking expressionless. Pence carried a similar message during his trip to Japan and South Korea.

They seem to have gone unheeded.

South Korea's then president Kim Dae-jung, who won a Nobel Peace Prize for his Sunshine policy of engagement with the North, visited Pyongyang for an unprecedented inter-Korean summit with late leader Kim Jong Il.

"It seems clear", he said, "that the countries have entered a phase of restoring a regular level of contact".

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