The Latest: Pence, Moon speak while watching speedskating

United States' Vice President Mike Pence, centre left and South Korean President Moon Jae-in attend the ladies' 500 meters short-track speedskating in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018.
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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The Latest on a high-level North Korean delegation visiting South Korea for the Olympics (all times local):

8:40 p.m.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and South Korean President Moon Jae-in are speaking while watching Olympic speedskaters compete, hours after Moon received a historic invitation to visit North Korea.

Aides did not immediately say whether the invitation was discussed as the two sat next to each other viewing several race heats Saturday.

They were seated not far from a section of North Korean cheerleaders who are attending the Olympics in a sign of warming ties between the two Koreas that Pence and other U.S. officials have warned against.

Moon and Kim Yong Nam, the North's ceremonial head of state, will jointly attend the unified Korean women's ice hockey team's first match later Saturday evening.

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7:40 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence is cheering on U.S. speed skaters at the Winter Olympics, before departing South Korea for Washington on Saturday.

Pence is viewing the short-track competition, in which eight Americans are participating.

It's the final stop on a six-day trip that Pence had hoped would increase pressure on North Korea as it seeks to use the games to pursue an opening with the South.

Pence's efforts to keep the spotlight on North Korea's nuclear program and human rights abuses have taken a back seat to the widely viewed images of the two Koreas marching under one flag during Friday night's opening ceremonies - and the invitation of dictator Kim Jong Un for South Korean President Moon Jae-in to visit the North.

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6:55 p.m.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is not directly addressing news that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un has invited South Korean President Moon Jae-in for a visit, as the two Koreas use the Olympics as an opportunity for renewing ties.

"The vice president is grateful that President Moon reaffirmed his strong commitment to the global maximum pressure campaign and for his support for continued sanctions," Pence spokeswoman Alyssa Farah said when asked about the developments.

Kim's sister, Kim Yo Jong, verbally delivered the invite to Moon on Saturday.

Pence has meant to use his trip to the Olympics to caution the South against "falling for" the North's overtures, which in the past have been used as stall tactics to allow for continued development of its nuclear program.

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3:45 p.m.
South Korea says North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has invited South Korean President Moon Jae-in for a summit meeting in the North.

Moon's spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom said Saturday Kim's sister verbally delivered his offer in a lunch meeting with Moon at Seoul's presidential palace.

The spokesman says Moon replied that the North and South should continue to work to build conditions so that a summit can take place.

The spokesman says Moon also called for a quick resumption of dialogue between the United States and North Korea.

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

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South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Saturday met with senior North Korean officials including leader Kim Jong Un's sister over lunch at Seoul's presidential palace in the most significant diplomatic encounter between the rivals in years.

The luncheon at the Blue House came after Kim Yo Jong and other North Korean delegates attended the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, which has brought a temporary lull in tensions over the North's nuclear program.

At the Olympic Stadium's VIP box, Kim Yo Jong and North Korea's nominal head of state, Kim Yong Nam, took their place among dignitaries from around the world, including U.S. Vice President Mike Pence who sat just a few feet away and seemed to make an effort not to acknowledge them.

Moon is desperate to use the games as an opportunity to restore regular communication with North Korea and eventually pull it into talks over resolving the international standoff over its nuclear program.

It's still unclear whether Saturday's event could be used to set up bigger meetings between the Koreas. Lawmakers from Moon's liberal ruling party have talked about the possibility of South Korea sending a special envoy to Pyongyang to meet with Kim Jong Un. There's even speculation of a summit between Kim and Moon.

Moon has already put a summit offer on the table. The first liberal president in a decade, Moon during his inauguration speech last year that he would be willing to visit Pyongyang and meet with Kim Jong Un if that helps solve the nuclear problem.

The North and South held summits in Pyongyang in 2000 and 2007, both hosted by late Kim Jong Il, the father of Kim Jong Un.

Kim Yo Jong, 30, is the first member of North Korea's ruling family to visit the South since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.

Analysts say the North's decision to send her to the Olympics shows eagerness to break out from diplomatic isolation by improving relations with the South, which it could use as a bridge for approaching the United States.

As First Vice Director of the Central Committee of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party, Kim has been an increasingly prominent figure in North Korea's leadership and is considered one of the few people who has earned her brother's absolute trust.

Saturday's meeting was the first time a South Korean president hosted North Korean officials at the Blue House since November 2007, when late liberal President Roh Moo-hyun, the political mentor of Moon, invited then-North Korean premier Kim Yong Il for lunch following a meeting with government officials in Seoul.

Moon and Kim Yo Jong broke out broad smiles as they shook hands ahead before the start of the opening ceremony at Pyeongchang's Olympic Stadium. Moon had earlier met Kim Yong Nam during a dinner he hosted for visiting dignitaries.

Moon and the two North Korean delegates cheerfully clapped and waved as the athletes from the two Koreas jointly marched during the ceremony holding a blue-and-white flag symbolizing a unified Korean Peninsula. Pence and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sat nearby, looking expressionless.

Critics say it's unclear whether revived dialogue between the Koreas could lead to immediate breakthrough on the nuclear stalemate when it seems unlikely that the North would be willing to give up its nukes under any deal.

As if to drive the point home, Kim Jong Un used the eve of the Olympics to throw a massive military parade in Pyongyang that was highlighted by several huge intercontinental ballistic missiles rolled out in launcher trucks. Analysts say that the missiles, which were successfully flight tested three times last year, could potentially reach deep into the U.S. mainland when perfected. The North also last year conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test to date.

In a meeting hours before Friday's opening ceremony, Abe warned Moon not to fall for North Korea's "smile diplomacy" during the Olympics, according to Moon's office. Pence carried a similar message during his trip to Japan and South 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.

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. It was built in the 1960s under the government of late anti-communist dictator Park Chung-hee as a luxury facility for U.S. troops stationed in the South.

The North Korean delegates later Saturday may attend the debut of the first-ever inter-Korean Olympic team at the women's ice hockey tournament in Gangneung. They may also see a performance by a visiting North Korean art troupe in Seoul on Sunday before flying back to Pyongyang.

The North has sent nearly 500 people to the Pyeongchang Games, including officials, athletes, artists and also a 230-member state-trained cheering group after the Koreas agreed to a series of conciliatory gestures for the games.

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