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Pence prods South Korean to be hard-liner on North

Pence prods South Korean to be hard-liner on North

At a Games rife with political overtones, US Vice-President Mike Pence was watching nearby as the first North Korean athlete competed - and flopped - on Saturday.

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".

A senior U.S. administration official told reporters that Pence did not discuss North Korea's invitation to Moon when the two leaders watched short track speed skating together.

Ms Kim and the North's ceremonial head of state Kim Yong-nam made up the most senior delegation from the North to visit the South since the Korean War in the 1950s.

The warm North-South body language not only fanned talk of a split between Seoul and Washington, it contrasted with a cold encounter between South Korea and Japan, an ally in USA -led efforts to pressure North Korea to end its nuclear program.

She verbally conveyed Kim's invitation to Moon "to visit the North at his most convenient time", he added. KCNA/via REUTERSMembers of the North Korean delegation arrive at the South's CIQ (Customs, Immigration and Quarantine), just south of the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas in Paju, January 25, 2018. Those are the flags of united Korea that athletes from North Korea and South Korea marched under during Friday's Opening Ceremony.

The Games have triggered rapid reconciliation between the two Koreas, who are still technically at war.

Mr Pence meanwhile, will use his appearance at the games in to call on the worldwide community to get tougher on North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

The vice president's visit to the Olympics in Pyeongchang comes during a time of tension between the US and North Korea.

The North Korean delegation also included the country's 90-year-old nominal head of state Kim Yong Nam, who was expected to attend a VIP reception before opening ceremony.

Kim Yo Jong is the first member of her family to set foot in this country since the north and south were divided and her grandfather, Kim Il Sung, founded North Korea.

Japanese editorials sounded a similar warning, saying dialogue would be meaningless unless it led to denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

Japan does not participate in the military exercises, but it is within reach of North Korean missiles and relies heavily on US forces and their readiness to deal with that threat.

South Korea today investigated a mysterious Internet shutdown during the Winter Olympics opening ceremony, which follows warnings of possible cyberattacks during the Pyeongchang Games. President Donald Trump has sought to maximize pressure on North Korea to convince Kim to give up his nuclear weapons, and his administration hasn't ruled out a preemptive attack.

Security for anything involving the North Koreans has been exceptionally tight. Even if he had met the North Korean officials, Pence would simply have reiterated his mantra that North Korea can not reap the benefits of being part of the community of nations while it threatens the world with its nuclear and missile aggression.

Moon's office says Kim's sister, Kim Yo Jong, came to the South as his special envoy.

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