NKorea notes 'warm talks' with SKorea's Moon, no mention of summit invitation

Huge military parade in Pyongyang on February 8

North Korea showcases fewer missiles at military parade than last year, expert says

Kim Yo Jong, deputy director of the Propaganda and Agitation Department of the Workers' Party, is the first member of the North's ruling dynasty to visit South Korea since the Korean War ended in 1953. Estimated to be around 30 years old, she is perhaps the only person to give direct opinions to Kim Jong Un.

That's what people are saying in South Korea, as they consider the unprecedented visit by Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who has raised her profile dramatically at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

It was a scene repeated during women's ice hockey Group B play between Switzerland and Korea.

Mattis' remarks come after South Korean President Moon Jae-in was presented a formal invitation to visit North Korea, potentially setting up the first meeting of Korean leaders since 2007.

Some 100 North Korean cheerleaders were on hand, decked in red track suits, leading chants for the spectators and singing North Korean pop songs. Those photos quickly went viral. Warming ties between the Koreas could complicate Seoul's ties with Washington, which wants to maximize its pressures on Pyongyang.

At the opening ceremony Friday night, Pence was seated in front of Kim Yo Jong, Kim Jong Un's sister and part of the North Korean delegation.

Pyeongchang, alas, is a very small place.

The unified Korean team snapped a selfie at the Winter Olympics opening ceremony. The next minute she was sitting in stunned silence as Switzerland scored yet another goal against the Korean women's ice hockey team.

"It's more likely that the image is that of a star in North Korea".

Pence was at pains to insist that Washington and Seoul were on the same page as he returned to Washington from leading the United States delegation to the Olympics.

In December, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's offered to start talks with North Korea without pre-conditions, but the State Department later said there would first have to be a "period of calm" in which Pyongyang suspends testing before any negotiations could begin.

The result of this opening game - an 8-0 drubbing - mattered little. Though this was sport, the political message resonated louder than any fan's roar.

Bach told Reuters in an interview on Monday he would make the visit on the North's invitation as part of an agreement between the International Olympic Committee and both North and South Korea.

It was the first time an inter-Korean team had competed at an Olympic Games.

After all the politics, Pyeongchang may soon be able to return its focus to - what is everyone here for again? - the sports. "There is no daylight between the United States, the Republic of Korea, and Japan on the need to continue to isolate North Korea economically and diplomatically until they abandon their nuclear ballistic missile program", Pence told reporters on the flight back to the US.

Still, North Korea's participation in the Olympics and the invitation has raised hopes that a thaw in relations could lead to a substantive agreement.

According to South Korea's presidential Blue House, Moon responded: "Let us make preparations to realize the meeting".

Pence said Moon updated him about the meeting he had with North Korean officials and "both of us reiterated to each other tonight that we will continue to stand strong and work in a coordinated way to bring maximum economic and diplomatic pressure to bear on North Korea".

Talmadge is the AP's Pyongyang bureau chief, on assignment at the Olympics.

It drew global attention for featuring players from both North and South Korea, who wore white jerseys with an image of a united Korean peninsula emblazoned in pale blue.

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