Heading home, Pence insists 'no daylight' on North Korea

How long is a hockey game at the Olympics? It works pretty much just like the NHL

How long is a hockey game at the Olympics? It works pretty much just like the NHL

And it has warned Seoul against falling for Pyongyang's Olympic charm offensive. The ongoing rapprochement mood flared after Kim Jong Un said in his New Year's Day address that he was willing to send an Olympic delegation.

USA officials have not ruled out the possibility that the vice president might meet a North Korean official at the Olympics.

The lunch Saturday at Seoul's presidential mansion between Moon and Kim Yo Jong was the most significant diplomatic encounter between the rivals in years. Two players, one South Korean and the other North Korean, appeared on the opening ceremony and climbed stairs together with the Olympic torch that they handed to Olympic champion figure skater Yuna Kim.

"The girls have been great, they fit in well with our team, " said Marissa Brandt, who was adopted as an infant out of South Korea and whose sister plays on the US team. Pence and the Kims seemed to go out of their way not to acknowledge each other.

A White House official described the South Korean president as hopeful that there would be "some talks and socializing" between Pence and the North Koreans over the course of the weekend.

At the 2003 University Games in Taegu, accusations that local right-wing groups had "ransacked" bedrooms and stolen underwear at the North Korean delegation's hotel prompted the cheerleaders to down pom-poms in protest.

At the luncheon, Moon proposed a toast, calling for peace and "mutual prosperity" for the two Koreas. He then recalled his past visit to the North's Diamond Mountain resort, where he and his mother met his North Korean aunt during a temporary reunion of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.

Not long after, North and South Korean athletes entered Olympic Stadium together, waving flags showing a unified Korea - the long-time dream, in theory at least, of many Koreans both North and South.

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Kim Yo Jong is a key advisor to her brother. Moon, a dove who wants to resolve the nuclear standoff diplomatically and peacefully, quickly responded to Kim's outreach by offering talks. Officials didn't reveal what was written in it.

If the North Koreans were out of place on the squad, no one seemed to notice. The squad of young women continuously sang, clapped and danced with gusto and unified precision, even as Switzerland crushed the unified Korean team 8-0.

Pence's office didn't directly address Kim's invitation to Moon.

Following the meeting, Pence press secretary Alyssa Farah said in a statement, "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". She also repeated the invitation directly to Moon to visit at a time convenient to him, he said.

"I leave here very confident that we are going to continue to do the things we've known have to be done to continue to pressure North Korea to abandon their nuclear ambitions".

"The 23rd Winter Olympics opened in Phyongchang of south Korea", KCNA wrote in English, using an alternate spelling for the Olympic city and, notably, the lower-case "south" - a style it uses to show it does not endorse the names "South Korea" and "North Korea". Many in Seoul, however, while interested in the warming high-level contacts, are also tempering expectations for a real breakthrough.

The North initially had no athletes coming to the Olympics, but the International Olympic Committee allowed 22 as special entries. It has only deepened over the years as the North closes in on the ability to field an arsenal of nukes that can hit US cities.

But North Korea has a habit of not letting itself be ignored when it comes to its southern rival.

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