Wednesday, 24 October, 2018

NK's high-level delegation to fly to S. Korea

2018 Winter Games USA TODAY Sports
Lori Graves | 09 February, 2018, 04:55

"The U.S. and North Korea are holding the key to developments on the Korean peninsula", Han told Moon, quoted in a statement provided by the Blue House. Speaking to reporters after a briefing with top U.S. military commanders on missile defense, he vowed not to allow North Korea to use "the powerful symbolism and the backdrop of the Winter Olympics to paper over the truth about their regime".

"We will not allow North Korean propaganda to hijack the message and imagery of the Olympic Games".

Pence, who is slated to meet separately with Moon, has reportedly pushed South Korea to get tougher on its neighbor and warned against North Korean "propaganda" efforts at the Olympics.

Kim has taken a more conciliatory tone in 2018, calling for detente with the South Koreans and accepting an invitation for his country to participate in what is being billed as the "peace Olympics". Not surprisingly, she caught North Korean watchers' attention.

Seoul needed until the last minute to persuade Washington to consider the flight an exception to sanctions announced by President Donald Trump's administration in September that include banning vessels and aircraft that have visited North Korea from traveling to the United States within 180 days. The liberal South Korean government is embracing idealized visions of peaceful unification by forcing its Olympic athletes to march under a unified banner with the North and even compete as part of a unified Korean team despite backlash from domestic opposition forces. Moreover, it will take careful alliance management in Seoul and Washington to prevent North Korea's "charm offensive" from amplifying bilateral policy differences and driving a wedge between the allies.

Olympic sponsor Samsung Electronics donated 4,000 Galaxy Note 8 to all athletes and International Olympic Committee officials. Its price starts at about $1,000. "These phones contain essential logistical and competition information for the athletes", an International Olympic Committee spokesperson said.

The U.S. vice president's comments were particularly pointed.

They are to make a three-day visit to the South starting from Friday. But the organizer decided not to give out the devices, rather than risking violating sanctions.

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"We have never begged for dialogue with the United States and it will be the same going forward", the Korean Central News Agency reported Wednesday, quoting Cho Yong Sam, director-general of the ministry's North American department.

US Vice President Mike Pence will also attend Friday's opening ceremony in Pyeongchang and has not ruled out meeting North Koreans.

Both Japan and South Korea are considered cornerstones of US security and economic relationships in Asia.

Kim Yong Nam, president of North Korea's Supreme People's Assembly, will lead the North Korean delegation.

And while Ms Yo-jong's inclusion is likely to irritate the US, South Korea welcomed the announcement, saying it was "significant that Kim had included his sister in the delegation".

In meetings with government leaders, military officials and United States service members, he said he wants to make sure the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics do not distract from North Korean human rights abuses and nuclear programme.

But sceptics think the North is trying to use the Olympics to weaken US-led sanctions and pressure against the country and buy more time to advance its nuclear weapons and missiles programme.

The promotion is a sign Kim Jong-un is consolidating his position by drawing his most important people closer to the center of power, experts and officials say.

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