Winter Olympics: Five gold medals up for grabs

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Saturday's meeting also involved two other high-level delegates - Choe Hwi, the chairman of the National Sports Guidance Committee, and Ri Son-gwon, the head of the North's state agency in charge of inter-Korean affairs.

The vice president and North Koreans are not expected to interact Saturday during events in Pyeongchang, according to a second US official.

The invitation came during talks and a lunch Moon hosted with Kim Yo Jong, the younger sister of the North Korean leader, at the presidential Blue House in Seoul.

The recent detente, anchored by South Korea's hosting of the Winter Olympic Games, came despite an acceleration in the North's weapons programme past year and pressure from Seoul's allies in Washington.

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"We need all United Nations member states to strictly enforce Security Council resolutions and raise pressure to the maximum degree until North Korea (agrees to) change its policies and comes to us seeking dialogue", he said. Join us in a conversation about world events, the newsgathering process or whatever aspect of the news universe you find interesting or important.

In August 2009, the DPRK sent a high-ranking condolence delegation to bid farewell to late South Korean President Kim Dae-jung who held the first inter-Korean summit in June 2000 with late DPRK leader Kim Jong Il, father of the current leader.

President Moon and Mr. and Mrs. Kim attended the joint parade of athletes from both Koreas, a highlight of the ceremony.

"(The visit) shows that North Korea has a strong will to improve inter-Korean relations and that Pyongyang can make unprecedented and bold measures if deemed necessary", the ministry said.

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Kim, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, is leading North Korea's delegation to the Olympics. Moon's mention of the apology initially caused Abe to express doubt about accepting Seoul's invitation to attend the opening ceremony.

Deepening the odd-man-out optics for Pence, Moon and Kim, smiling broadly, exchanged a handshake and cheered the team enthusiastically.

But North Korea's bad record on human rights and the growing threat from its nuclear weapons program appeared out of mind.

Before departing Japan for Korea earlier Thursday, Pence warned that past attempts to pursue openings with the North have been met with "willful deception, broken promises, and endless and escalating provocations". USA officials have grown increasingly dire in their warnings about the North's march toward developing an operational nuclear-tipped ballistic missile capable of reaching the continental U.S. Pence was scheduled to leave for the U.S. Saturday night.

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"It is too early to say if. using the Olympics in a way to reduce tensions, if that is going to have any traction once the Olympics are over, we can't say right now", Mattis said.

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