North Korean ski coach says it's 'honour' to compete in Winter Games

South Korean president hosts lunch for Kim Jong Un's sister

The invitation, delivered by Kim's visiting sister Kim Yo Jong, said Kim was willing to meet the South's leader "at the earliest date possible", said a spokesman for the presidential Blue House.

He said the North was using the Games for crude propaganda. "It is important to move forward with the drills as planned", Abe said, according to South's presidential Blue House.

"That's a very odd time if in fact he is trying to show a warming to a country that he has attacked repeatedly as an American puppet", said the USA defence chief, who is to head next to Brussels and Munich.

"Kim's proposal for a summit with Moon is based on the premise that the North will stick to its nuclear weapons while seeking rapprochement with the South", he told AFP.

The meeting led to a series of reunions of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War, as well as the launch of a joint factory park in the North's border town of Kaesong in 2004.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has warned Mr. Moon not to be taken in by North Korea's "smile diplomacy" during the Olympics, while U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence has sought to keep a spotlight on North Korea's worst attributes, vowing to impose the "toughest and most aggressive" sanctions until the country "abandons its nuclear and ballistic missile programs once and for all".

North Korea is sending 22 athletes, including three Alpine skiers, to the Pyeongchang Games thanks to special entries given by the International Olympic Committee amid rare reconciliation mood between the rival Koreas. "Moon should be aware that he has to urge denuclearisation to North Korea by himself, not depending on dialogue between the US and North Korea", an editorial in the Yomiuri Newspaper read.

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North Korea has made clear that it does not intend to negotiate away its nuclear and missile programs in return for relief from global sanctions.

An inter-Korean summit would be the third of its kind, after Kim's father and predecessor Kim Jong Il met the South's Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun in 2000 and 2007 respectively, both of them in Pyongyang. Kim Yo Jong, left hakes hands with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

"We are now going to witness how powerful the sports can bring to promote peace and reconciliation and friendship and harmony between South and North Korea", former United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who spoke before the show began, said.

However, North Korean athletes are taking part in the Olympics, with the two countries agreeing to field a unified ice hockey team.

In Pyongyang, North Korea's official Rodong Sinmun newspaper also reported on the Games bonhomie, publishing photos of its ceremonial head of state clinking glasses with Moon and of the South's leader also shaking hands with a telegenic Kim Yo Jong.

"I think this overture towards South Korea is partly sanctions-related, and also related to the fact that it's clear a divergence has developed between Washington and Seoul's most keenly desired goals in the near term", said Andray Abrahamian, a research fellow at Pacific Forum CSIS in Hawaii.

"They felt it had made this tense situation on the peninsula calm down a bit".

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