Female hockey players from the rival Koreas were paired up with each other today to form their first-ever Olympic squad during next month's Pyeongchang Winter Games, as their countries press ahead with rare reconciliation steps following a period of nuclear tensions.
Seoul had earlier granted the ship a temporary exemption from an existing South Korean measure prohibiting North Korean vessels from entering and operating in South Korean waters or ports.
South Korea's spy agency said Monday that Kim Jong Gak, a vice chief of North Korea's Ministry of the People's Armed Forces, has been picked to head the military's General Political Bureau, according to parliamentary sources.
"Our administration re-designated North Korea as a state sponsor of terror", Pence said.
But a Pyeongchang organising committee spokeswoman told AFP: "North Korean and Iranian athletes will be excluded because of existing United Nations sanctions" against the two countries.
A decision by North Korea to send the artists by sea has triggered debate in the South, where conservatives see the move as a clear indication the North is trying to use the Olympics to ease sanctions against it.
On Thursday, Moon will meet the presidents of Germany, Poland and Switzerland, China's Politburo Standing Committee member Han Zheng, and with US Vice President Mike Pence.
The people, who had knowledge of parliament's intelligence committee proceedings, told Reuters the National Intelligence Service did not present evidence that North Korean hackers were responsible for one of the largest cryptocurrency heists in history but flagged it as a possibility.
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However, the two Koreas competed at the world table tennis championships and the world youth football championships as one country in 1991.
Presidential spokesman Kim Eui-kyum said in a media briefing on Wednesday that it is significant that the regime is sending Kim Yo-jong, who plays an important role in the North's ruling Workers' Party. As part of the rapprochement deals, the Koreas also agreed for their athletes to march together under a single flag during the February 9 opening ceremony, while the North will send a large art troupe to perform in the South.
Pence says that his message will always be the same - that North Korea "must once and for all abandon its nuclear weapons program and ballistic missile ambitions".
The almost identical comments by Pence and Tillerson expressing openness to a meeting with the North Koreans appeared deliberate and coordinated. Sports include figure skating, alpine skiing, bobsledding, curling, snow boarding and ice hockey.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters travelling with him on a visit to Jamaica that he did not anticipate a meeting at the Olympics, but "it just depends on the circumstances as to whether this is the right time or not". It will then ace Sweden on February 12 and Japan on February 14. The United States, which backed the South in the war, maintains about 28,500 servicemembers on the peninsula.
Conservatives in Seoul have held a series of small-scale rallies in recent days. They often wear matching uniforms and display the well-practiced unified precision that is a hallmark of North Korean mass events.
Pence arrived in Tokyo on Tuesday night on the first leg of a six-day trip to Japan and South Korea aimed at putting further pressure on Pyongyang and canceling any North Korean propaganda victory over its participation in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in the South.