losangelesnewstoday.com May 24, 2018

North Korea says it's not interested in meeting US VP Mike Pence

10 February 2018, 05:59 | Katrina Lee

North Korean cheering squads arrive at the Korean-transit office on their way to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. Ahn Young-joon-Pool Getty Images

North Korean cheering squads arrive at the Korean-transit office on their way to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. Ahn Young-joon-Pool  Getty Images

"We have no intention to meet with the USA side during the stay in South Korea", the official was quoted as saying.

Pence told reporters that despite disagreements over how to approach North Korea, the state of the alliance between the USA and South Korea is "strong". "But it also needed do tone down its rhetoric and actions as a peace initiative toward South Korea during the Olympics".

Earlier Thursday Cho Yong Sam, a senior Pyongyang foreign ministry official, was quoted as saying the North had "no intention" of meeting USA authorities during the trip.

South Korea's unification ministry said on Thursday it would be open to discuss resuming tours to North Korea's Mt Kumgang once the security of tourists was guaranteed and conditions relating to North Korea's nuclear program are met. But tours to the region ended when a South Korean tourist was shot in 2008 by a North Korean guard. Radio Free Asia reported during the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics that although the country's delegation was given phones, North Korea's Olympic committee had refused to distribute them to athletes.

Speaking on the conditional of anonymity to describe private conversations, the officials said Moon and Pence agreed that the goal of any opening with North Korea must be denuclearization - even if there are differences in how they'd like to get there.

The Trump administration has sought to prevent North Korea from using the Games to weaken sanctions and drive a wedge in its alliance with South Korea. The South hosts 28,500 US troops, a legacy of the war.

In a televised speech, Kim said that the parade marks North Korea's emergence as a "global military power" despite facing the "worst sanctions".

Kim Jong Un promoted his sister past year to the ruling party's political wing.

Dressed in a long black winter coat and fedora, Kim could be seen at the beginning of the event walking on a red carpet with his wife, Ri Sol Ju, and Kim Yong Nam, the country's ceremonial head of state.

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Others waved a distorted image of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un photoshopped to resemble a demonic boar. He did not mention the United States, which North Korea considers its main enemy and regularly threatens to destroy in a sea of flames.

Pence will meet Moon on Thursday.

The North had insisted on the event, despite criticism from the United States and others about its timing - a day before the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics, which run from 9 to 25 February in the mountain town of Pyeongchang.

Nuclear-armed North Korea is on an Olympics-linked charm offensive - sending a troupe of performers, hundreds of female cheerleaders and the sister of leader Kim Jong-un to South Korea, but regiments of soldiers goose-stepped in formation through Kim Il-sung Square yesterday, followed by increasingly heavy weapons.

In the case of women's hockey, North Korean athletes will compete on a joint team with the South, for the first-ever unified Olympic team for the two Koreas.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe meets with Moon on Friday.

The officials are making a three-day visit to the South to attend the Olympics' opening ceremony on Friday.

Officials in Seoul said the dictator's decision to send his closest confidant and a high-ranking member of the Workers' Party reflected positively on efforts to ease tensions in the region.

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