North Korea: US says 'no daylight' between allies despite warmer ties

The invitation was delivered by Kim’s sister Kim Jo Yong during a Saturday meeting at Moon’s presidential compound in Seoul a day after the opening ceremony for the Winter Olympics in South Korea

Vice President Pence (R, front row) watches the joint march by the athletes of both Koreas at the opening ceremony of the Olympics on February 9, 2018, as South Korea President Moon Jae-in (L, front row) claps, North Korea's nominal head of state Kim Yong-nam (2nd from R, rear row) waves and Kim Yo-jong (R, rear row), the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, claps.

South Korea's president Moon Jae-in shook hands with her and said at the ceremony: "I would like to take this opportunity to convey greetings and a message of friendship from the people of Korea".

Moon was quoted saying he's ready to meet, if conditions are right.

The North Koreans earlier Saturday invited Moon to visit Pyongyang in what would be the Koreas' third summit talks since their 1945 division. But it would be Kim's first meeting with a foreign head of state.

The US and South Korea stand united against North Korea's nuclear program, even as the two Koreas hold talks in conjunction with the Winter Olympics, US Vice President Mike Pence has said.

Moon won't have much space to negotiate with North Korea without backing from the US, said Christopher Green, senior adviser on the Korean peninsula at the International Crisis Group in Amsterdam. President Moon and I reflected on that last night.

USA officials have been urging South Korea to be cautious in its rapprochement with the North. Since he took power six years ago, he has not only executed scores of senior party officials and military generals but also rattled the region by accelerating nuclear and missile tests. He had an opening to clarify to Kim what the United States wants, what it expects, and what would occur if he was stupid enough to attack the USA or its allies in Northeast Asia. Sunday's performance was the Samjiyon troupe's second and final performance in South Korea before heading back to the North through a western land route. Meanwhile a joint hockey team and a cheerleading squad has generated warm feelings, at least at the Olympics. "But what is more important than anything is that we are together".

The North's presence in the South has dominated Olympic headlines, with the winter sports festival triggering a flurry of cross-border trips culminating in the diplomatic delegation.

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Yet the pageantry around a "Peace Olympics" has also created disquiet for many South Koreans.

The nuclear-armed North's delegation is the diplomatic highlight of an Olympics-driven rapprochement on the divided peninsula.

Mr Pence stayed seated when South and North Korean athletes marched together under a unified flag, and also skipped a dinner with the North Korean delegation.

The Soviet Union occupied North Korea and the United States occupied the South, separating the two territories by the 38th parallel. Global alarm at the rapid advance of nuclear-armed North Korea's weapons technology rose further a year ago when the regime tested its Hwasong-15 ballistic missile theoretically capable of hitting the mainland United States, in a challenge to Washington that has threatened to "utterly destroy" the regime in the event of an attack. It's clear both sides decided it was not in their interest to go along with Moon's wishes at this time.

"We have to be wise, because North Koreans are politically and diplomatically very clever".

The divided nation came back into the spotlight previous year after Pyongyang made profound nuclear and rocket advancements.

On Friday, Pence said there was "no daylight" between the allies in pushing for denuclearization of the peninsula. And users called him out for what they said was blatant hypocrisy. A Blue House official initially said the president had accepted Kim Jong-un's offer, but that was later denied by chief spokesman Yoon Young-chan.

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