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North Korea says no plans to meet U.S. officials at Olympics


North Korea has no intention of meeting U.S officials during the Winter Olympics that start on Friday, the KCNA news agency reported, dampening hopes the Games will help resolve a tense standoff over the North’s nuclear weapons program, APA reports quoting Reuters.

 

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, who described North Korea as the world’s most tyrannical regime on Wednesday, flies in to South Korea on Thursday ahead of the opening ceremony in the mountain resort of Pyeongchang, just 80 km (50 miles) from the heavily armed border with North Korea.

 

The ceremony will also be attended by a senior delegation of North Korean officials, including the younger sister of leader Kim Jong Un and the North’s nominal head of state, Kim Yong Nam.

 

(For a graphic on North Korea’s Olympic delegations click tmsnrt.rs/2E1Qa9Q)

 

“We have never begged for dialogue with the United States and it will be the same going forward,” KCNA reported on Thursday, citing Cho Yong Sam, director-general of the North American department of North Korea’s foreign ministry.

 

“To be clear, we have no intention of meeting with the U.S. during our visit to South Korea”, and no plans to use the Winter Olympics as a political vehicle, Cho said.

 

South Korea wants to use the event to re-engage with North Korea and open the way for talks to resolve one of the world’s most dangerous crises, in which U.S. President Donald Trump and Pyongyang have swapped nuclear threats.

 

Speaking after meeting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo on his way to South Korea, Pence said Washington would soon unveil “the toughest and most aggressive round of economic sanctions on North Korea ever”.

 

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the sanctions would be unveiled “in the coming weeks” and urged all countries to fully implement existing U.N. sanctions and to back the U.S. pressure campaign by expelling North Korean “financial facilitators and trade reps”.

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