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Missiles and smiles from North Korea on eve of Olympic Games

10 February 2018

A rare invitation to Pyongyang for South Korea's president marked Day Two of the North Korean Kim dynasty's southern road tour Saturday, part of an accelerating diplomatic thaw that included some Korean liquor over lunch and the shared joy of watching a "unified" Korea team play hockey at the Olympics.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vowed on Friday to improve frayed ties between the United States allies.

Impersonators of Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un pose during the Opening Ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at PyeongChang Olympic Stadium on February 9, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea.

North Korea has spent years developing its military, saying it needs to protect itself from US aggression.

"I am very confident, as President Trump is, that President Moon will continue to stand strongly with us in our extreme-pressure campaign", Pence told NBC in an interview on Friday, maintaining all options were open to deal with the crisis.

The games will be attended by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's sister and other senior officials.

A Blue House official said Moon "practically accepted" the invitation.

Pence arrived late and stayed for just five minutes - and did not interact with the delegation from the North - at a Friday VIP reception for delegation leaders.

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

"We hope that President (Moon) could leave a legacy that would last over generations by leading the way in opening a new era of unification", she said. "It's a time to focus on messages of reconciliation and peace".

Past administrations have been wary of efforts by Pyongyang to drive a wedge between Washington and Seoul, but still generally supportive of efforts to calm tensions at the heavily militarized border that divides the Koreas.

The opening ceremony for the Winter Olympics in South Korea has begun with a big fireworks display.

Throw in there the accusations that South Korea has had to arrange huge payouts for past meetings, and that these earlier encounters, while producing indelible images, have done little to slow North Korea's pursuit of nuclear weapons.

But Mr 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.

Her arrival on Kim Jong Un's private jet with a coterie of 22 officials was broadcast live on South Korean television.

Aides acknowledged that the hard-nosed message is an unusual one for the affable Pence, but said the circumstances warrant the tone.

U.S. vice president Mike Pence is using his appearance at the Winter Olympics to call on the global community to get tougher on North Korea's nuclear ambitions and human rights abuses.

The North Korean delegation is set to return home Sunday.

Missiles and smiles from North Korea on eve of Olympic Games