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Pence bashes North Korea's military parade, endorses Trump's parade

11 February 2018

Pence said Friday that the USA would oppose talks between the two Koreas until the North agreed to open negotiations on ending its nuclear program, and he was silent Saturday on the news of the invitation.

Dr Go Myong Hyun of The Asan Institute for Policy Studies think-tank, however, said the Winter Olympics marks a "turning point in South Korea's relations with North Korea".

According to the Blue House, Kim Jong Un wanted to meet Moon "in the near future" and would like for him to visit North Korea "at his earliest convenience", his sister told Moon. Kim Yo Jong is 28 years old, according to the US government.

"The vice president is grateful that President Moon reaffirmed his strong commitment to the global maximum pressure campaign and for his support for continued sanctions", Pence spokeswoman Alyssa Farah said when asked about the development.

In Pyongyang, North Korea's official Rodong Sinmun newspaper also reported on the Games bonhomie, publishing photos of its ceremonial head of state clinking glasses with Moon and of the South's leader also shaking hands with a telegenic Kim Yo Jong. Moon's chief of staff held a farewell dinner for the delegation before the delegation attended a performance by a North Korean orchestra, the last item on their itinerary before heading home.

Officials traveling with Pence to the 23rd Olympic Winter Games in South Korea were responding to reports that Pence had gone around a main table and greeted everyone except Kim Yong Nam, North Korea's nominal head of state.

"What can not be overlooked is that Moon did not directly demand North Korea to abandon its nuclear development ..." Pence appeared to leave the door open for negotiations earlier this week when he said, "I haven't requested any meeting".

On his way to Asia earlier this week, the USA vice president told reporters he was not seeking direct talks with North Korean officials, "but we'll see what happens".

Still, it wouldn't be South Korea if people weren't asking the perennial question when it comes to North Korea changing gears and showering its rival with apparent affection: What's in it for Pyongyang? In it, Kim Jong Un highlighted several huge intercontinental ballistic missiles, which were successfully flight tested three times a year ago and could reach deep into the US mainland when perfected.

North Korea has sent some of the highest level officials ever to the south for these games, the result of diplomacy by Seoul that led to an agreement between the two countries - still formally at war - to participate together in the Winter Games.

Moon's office said he told Abe that the talks between the Koreas would not disrupt worldwide efforts to deal with North Korea's nuclear program.

A foreign resident living in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, told Reuters he had seen fewer people in restaurants and luxury goods in shops in recent months.

After two failed Olympic bids that emphasized the high-sounding notion that the games could help make peace with North Korea, Pyeongchang finally sold its successful try in 2011 on the decidedly capitalistic goal of boosting winter sports tourism in Asia.

Moon is eager to use Kim's presence at the games to restore regular communication with North Korea and eventually pull it into nuclear talks.

Some analysts maintain that Mr Kim Jong Un, who extended an overture to improve inter-Korean ties during his New Year's Day speech, is only trying to drive a wedge between South Korea and the US.

Pence bashes North Korea's military parade, endorses Trump's parade