N.Korea rules out talks with United States during Olympics

2018 Winter Games

Pence, who reached Tokyo on Tuesday, is scheduled to attend the Winter Olympics' Opening Ceremony in South Korea on Friday.

Kim Jong-Un, the sister of North Korean leader will visit South Korea this week to take part in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, Seoul said on Wednesday.

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

"President Moon plans to hold a meeting and have lunch with the North Korean delegation on February 10", the spokesman told a press briefing without disclosing the location of the planned meeting.

The more hawkish view is the North Koreans are taking a conciliatory stance to put pressure on the alliance between the USA and South Korea.

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The U.N. Security Council has unanimously boosted sanctions on North Korea since 2006 in a bid to choke funding for Pyongyang's nuclear and ballistic missile programs, banning exports including coal, iron, lead, textiles and seafood, and capping imports of crude oil and refined petroleum products.

To facilitate the attendance of several senior functionaries from the North, South Korea has allowed some exemptions to sanctions imposed on North Korea over its nuclear programme, although the foreign ministry in Seoul said these would apply only during the Pyeongchang games.

Mr Pence has lambasted the North, announcing in Tokyo on Wednesday that the U.S. would impose its toughest sanctions to date on the regime.

Neither Kim Yo Jong nor Kim Yong Nam are among the North Korean officials blacklisted under United Nations sanctions over the North's weapons programmes, but the US Treasury Department past year included Kim Yo Jong on its list of blacklisted officials over her position as vice director of the ruling Workers' Party's Propaganda and Agitation Department.

"I'm announcing today that the United States of America will soon unveil the toughest and most aggressive round of economic sanctions on North Korea ever", Pence said on Wednesday in Japan.

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To complicate matters further, Kim Yo-jong, who oversees the North Korean regime's propaganda, is blacklisted under sanctions, while Pence will be accompanied by the father of Otto Warmbier, the American student who was imprisoned by North Korea and died shortly after returning to the U.S. in a coma a year ago.

Kim Yo Jong, the North Korean leader's younger sister and a close confidante, will be the highest-ranking diplomat attending the games on behalf of North Korea. The North also formed a group of male cheerleaders in their 40s and 50s for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

"I have not requested a meeting, but we'll see what happens", he said.

Pence had appeared to be open to possible engagement before landing in Japan on Tuesday, but the U.S. vice president took a much harsher tone following his meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. In a rare show of rapprochement, North Korea's delegation was given a festive welcome at the Games on Thursday.

"The traditional Olympic truce takes on special importance this year as delegations of the two Koreas will walk together under a unified flag" during the opening ceremony and compete as one team in women's ice hockey, he said. He might have picked her to succeed him - but dictators pick sons, not daughters, and Jong-il chose his youngest, Kim Jong-un.

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