Mike Pence didn't snub North Koreans deliberately, officials say

Mike Pence didn't snub North Koreans deliberately, officials say

Mike Pence didn't snub North Koreans deliberately, officials say

A unique opportunity has been created for deescalating tension on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang on Friday sent a delegation - led by North Korea's ceremonial head of state Kim Yong Nam - to Pyeongchang to attend the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in South Korea.

Hundreds of Twitter users in recent days have referred to "Pyongyang2018", and while some were making a dig at the presence of North Korea at the Games, in many cases it appears to have been a simple mix-up.

The joint hockey team is one of several olive branches that have been extended so far in PyeongChang, including the historic attendance of Kim Yo Jong, sister of Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

Washington seems to be unhappy about the Pyongyang-Seoul engagement. The gold medal for mix-ups goes to the Kenyan delegate to a United Nations conference held in Pyeongchang in 2014, who mistakenly flew to Pyongyang instead.

On Thursday, North Korea said its official delegation to the PyeongChang Olympics had no intention of meetings its US counterpart.

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At the game's end, the crowd cheered for the Korean team, which will play in another preliminary round against Sweden on Monday. North Korea has emerged as the early favourite to grab one of the Winter Olympics' most important medals: the diplomatic gold.

North Korea agreed to take part in the Winter Olympic Games after three rounds of inter-Korean dialogue last month that marked the first of their kind in more than two years.

But President Moon has resisted pressure from the Trump administration by sending overtures to Pyongyang.

A spokesperson for President Moon has confirmed leader Kim's sibling Kim Yo Jong to have presented his summit offer in a lunch meeting at Seoul's presidential palace.

But Schoff said that by pouring cold water on hopes for better inter-Korean relations, Pence's stance could be viewed as critical of Moon's outreach to North Korea.

Abe discussed North Korea's nuclear and missile programs and brought up the issue of Japanese nationals who were abducted by the North decades ago when he shook hands and briefly spoke with Kim Yong Nam during the dinner hosted by Moon in Pyeongchang, the Kyodo News service quoted the Japanese government as saying.

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As for sharing Moon's box with the North Koreans, the officials said they knew in advance who was going to be in Moon's box to watch the opening ceremony. Pence carried a similar message during his trip to Japan and South Korea.

After the opening ceremony, the North Korean delegates moved to Seoul and spent the night at the Walkerhill hotel, a riverside facility named after late U.S. Army commander Walton Walker, who's considered a Korean War hero in the South.

The first medals of the Pyeongchang Olympics will be awarded Saturday, but most attention will be focused on a preliminary round hockey match featuring the combined Korean women's hockey team.

Now there are positive signs for a breakthrough in the turbulent relationship between Pyongyang and Seoul.

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