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Pence will use Olympics to push tougher stance on North Korea

11 February 2018

On Saturday Kim Yo Jong "courteously" handed over a personal letter from the North Korean leader to Moon and told him of her brother's "intention", North Korea's state news agency KCNA said, without elaborating what that was.

"I never thought I would visit (the South) so suddenly and believed much would be unusual and different but I saw many things that were similar or the same", said Kim Yo Jong in a toast during Sunday's dinner, adding she hoped to meet the "friendly faces" before her later in Pyongyang.

Kim's sister, Kim Yo Jong, was at the opening ceremony with North Korea's nominal head of state, 90-year-old Kim Yong Nam. The first liberal president in a decade, Moon during his inauguration speech a year ago that he would be willing to visit Pyongyang and meet with Kim Jong Un if that helps solve the nuclear problem.

Mr Pence seeks to counter what he called North Korean "propaganda" around the Winter Olympics, and is eager to put a reality check on the thaw in relations between the Koreas in advance of the Games.

The official added they then will travel to Seoul on Saturday morning for a rehearsal to be held later in the day at the venue where they will perform on Sunday.

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A White House official said although Moon did not discuss the invitation with Pence, the South Korean president made it very clear that only when North Korea actually starts to take steps to denuclearise would anyone even consider beginning to take the pressure off.

Pence was asked about Thursday's military parade in North Korea overseen by Kim Jong Un. Pence had said they would "see what happens" when asked about a potential meeting earlier in the week, but the North's foreign ministry shot down any chance of talks on Thursday.

He ratcheted up his rhetoric on the North's human rights abuses in a speech to USA service members at Yokota Air Base in Japan.

The Hwasong-14 ICBM, successfully tested twice previous year, also made its first appearance at the parade. Pence carried a similar message during his trip to Japan and South Korea.

"The simple truth is that the time has come for North Korea to permanently abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile ambitions - to recognize there is no future as a member of the family of nations for a nuclear-empowered North Korea", he said after touring the Cheonan naval memorial, a tribute to the South Korean ship sunk in 2010.

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After the opening ceremony, the North Korean delegates moved to Seoul and spent the night at the Walkerhill hotel, a riverside facility named after late U.S. Army commander Walton Walker, who's considered a Korean War hero in the South.

The Pences did not stand for the unified Korean team's entrance.

It remains unknown how the troupe will return to the North.

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.

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Pence will use Olympics to push tougher stance on North Korea