North Korea has 'no intention' to meet United States officials during Olympics

North Korea has 'no intention' to meet United States officials during Olympics

North Korea has no intention of meeting US officials during the Winter Olympics that start in South Korea on Friday, state media said, dampening hopes the Games will help resolve a tense standoff over the North's nuclear weapons program. World cross-country skiing champion Sergey Ustyugov and world biathlon gold medalist Anton Shipulin will also miss the Olympics.

At least two US athletes hailed the decision to keep the Russians out of the Olympics while calling the overall issue a distraction.

North and South Korea are technically still at war because their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty. For years, the rival Koreas used the games to showcase their competing claims to represent the Korean people, and to try to one-up each other.

North Korea is under multiple sets of UN Security Council sanctions over its banned nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes, which have seen it develop rockets theoretically capable of reaching the U.S. mainland.

The North's state media also showed what appeared to be intercontinental ballistic missiles on launchers as thousands of North Koreans filled Kim Il Sung Square, named after Kim Jong Un's grandfather.

Sources say it was noteworthy that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un didn't mention the word "nuclear" during his speech, instead choosing to refer to his country as having "developed into a world class military power".

"I think the North Koreans are making a last-ditch effort to get across the finish line with their nuclear program while the world's attention is focused on the Olympics", Bolton said.

North Korea's glamorous cheerleaders are expected to make a bigger impact than their athletes.

REX  Shutterstock
REX Shutterstock

Later Friday, Pence will lead a US delegation to the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

The UN Security Council on Thursday gave permission for a North Korean official under worldwide sanctions to travel to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics along with Kim Jong Un's sister, diplomats said. While there had been hope for a detente with China after the two nation's leaders met in December, the decline in tourist numbers continued into January.

They agreed to talk again before the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984. "We still needed to come out here and perform for the team". Keep an eye out for the joint Korean team. The South also made a key concession, agreeing that each Korea should contribute the same number of players.

But the Moon administration should not fall for North Korea's tricks and maneuvers. The North receded into deeper isolation during a devastating starvation. Korean athletes marched with a flag showing the whole peninsula at nine worldwide events, including the Olympics and Asian Games.

The team event is still very new to Olympic competition.

The Olympic opening ceremony is set for Friday night, and the participation of the Russian athletes continues to be a distraction. "I asked her for a story, 'Why are you still doing this?' She just looked at me with great consternation: 'Mike, why am I doing this?"

The sports diplomacy froze in 2008 as a new conservative government in Seoul limited ties with the North, refusing to turn a blind eye to its weapons programmes.

But he did not rule out a meeting with the North's delegates during the Games, saying there "may be a possibility for any kind of an encounter with North Koreans", whether informal or formal.

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