North Korea: No intention to meet U.S. officials

North Korea stressed it has no intention of meeting U.S officials during Winter Olympics in South Korea.

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Elad Benari,

Kim Jong-Un
Kim Jong-Un
Reuters

North Korea stressed on Wednesday it has no intention of meeting U.S officials during the Winter Olympics that begin in South Korea on Friday, Reuters reported, citing the North's official KCNA news agency.

The clarification came a day after U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, who will attend the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in the town of Pyeongchang, said he did not rule out meetings with North Korean officials on the sidelines of the Olympics.

Seoul’s Ministry of Unification said on Wednesday that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, planned to visit South Korea as part of a high-level delegation to attend the opening ceremony of the Olympics.

“We have never begged for dialogue with the United States and it will be the same going forward”, KCNA reported Wednesday night, 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,” the report said.

Cho said the North Korean delegation’s visit to the Winter Olympics was only to celebrate the Games and that Pyongyang had no intention of using the Winter Olympics as a political vehicle.

Pence said on Tuesday that while he would not rule out meeting North Korean officials while in South Korea, his message to those officials “will be the same: And that is that North Korea must once and for all abandon its nuclear weapons program and ballistic missile ambitions.”

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert later stressed there were no plans for Pence or his delegation to meet with North Korean leaders.

"There are no plans to meet with any North Korean officials during or after the Olympics; I want to be clear about that. There are no plans to do so,” she told reports.

Last month, in a move that seemed aimed at easing tensions, the North last month said it would send its athletes to the Winter Olympics, due to kick off in the South on Friday.

North Korea also recently sent a rare announcement addressed to “all Koreans at home and abroad”, saying they should make a “breakthrough” for unification without the help of other countries.

Despite the easing of tensions between North and South Korea, a war of words has continued between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Kim claimed in January that his country has developed the capability to hit the entire U.S. mainland with its nuclear weapons.

“The entire United States is within range of our nuclear weapons, and a nuclear button is always on my desk. This is reality, not a threat,” the North Korean leader said.

Trump then tweeted in response, “North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the ‘Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.’ Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”

On Sunday, North Korea fired back at Trump, after he slammed rights abuses in the country in his State of the Union address last week.

A spokesperson of the North's foreign ministry said the speech reflected "the height of Trump-style arrogance, arbitrariness and self-conceit.”








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