Come visit: South Korea's leader invited to North Korea

Moon urges Japan to look 'squarely' at history for improved ties with S. Korea

But Pence continued, calling the North Korean parade "an ongoing provocation".

Kim's visit is significant as she is the first member of North Korea's ruling family to enter South Korea since the end of the Korean War in 1953.

The build-up has been dominated by matters involving North Korea and Russian Federation.

"The fate of our nation must be determined by our own selves - we must not allow the repeat of unfortunate past history where our fate was determined with no regard to our opinions", Moon said in a speech to South Korean lawmakers in November.

Relations on the Korean Peninsula had deteriorated significantly a year ago over Pyongyang's rapidly accelerating ballistic missile and nuclear weapons testing programmes.

On Wednesday, the North announced that Kim Yo Jong, the sister of dictator Kim Jong-un, would attend the games, joining the country's nominal head of state, Kim Yong Nam.

Along with the rest of the North's senior delegation, Kim Yo Jong was to have lunch with Moon at the presidential Blue House.

That said, these officials said that if the North Koreans had approached Pence with pleasantries, he would have responded in kind. It has only deepened over the years as the North closes in on the ability to field an arsenal of nukes that can hit USA cities.

The show was given by some 140 members of Pyongyang's Samjiyon Orchestra as part of a cross-border deal in which the isolated nuclear-armed North sent hundreds of athletes, cheerleaders and others to the Pyeongchang Winter Games in the South.

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Though Moon has used the Olympics to resurrect meaningful communication with North Korea after a diplomatic stalemate over its nuclear program, he didn't immediately jump on the North Korean offer for a summit.

Past "charm offensives" have been interpreted as North Korea trying to recoup from crippling sanctions on their nuclear programme, or trying to drive a wedge between Seoul and its USA ally.

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.

US officials have been urging South Korea to be cautious in its rapprochement with the North - a point Pence drilled home in private meetings with Moon on Thursday. "The Hwasong-14, which we saw in the parade, too, there's still debate whether or not that could reach the West Coast or whether it could go farther".

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

Even if there are more meetings between the rivals after the Games, accomplishing something is another matter.

Pence told reporters that despite disagreements over how to approach North Korea, the state of the alliance between the USA and South Korea is "strong". They stressed the North Koreans in the VIP box had watched Pence, Moon and Abe hold a running discussion in the front row for the more than two-hour ceremonies. Pence carried a similar message.

He supported Pence's moves to meet with North Korean defectors, paying respects at a memorial to 46 South Korean sailors killed in a 2010 torpedo attack blamed on the North. Pence also invited as his Olympics guest the father of USA college student Otto Warmbier, who died after he was imprisoned by North Korea for stealing a propaganda poster. Normally dressed in blazing red, they paraded in wearing grey and white jackets and seemed - uncommonly for that delegation - quite sedate.

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