View of Winter Olympics from space

Bitter cold affecting athletes, gear at Winter Olympics

North Korea has no intention of meeting U.S. officials during the Winter Olympics that start on Friday, the KCNA news agency reported, presenting a "protocol headache" for those planning seating arrangements at the opening ceremony.

The US is preparing to announce the "toughest and most aggressive" economic sanctions against North Korea, boosting pressure on the regime during the Winter Olympics, Mike Pence has said.

"We have no intention whatsoever to meet USA authorities during our visit to the South", Cho Yong-sam, a senior foreign ministry official, was quoted as saying by the North's official KCNA news agency.

It's unclear whether any member of the North Korean government delegation will hold talks with US officials during the Olympics.

"We hope that the Winter Olympics may go some way in encouraging North Korea into dialogue, to get them back to the negotiating table", Ms Bishop said. "If South Korea, the neighboring nation that should be most alarmed by North Korea's nuclear and missile development programs, makes clear that it is adopting a conciliatory approach, the global net encircling North Korea will loosen", a senior Japanese government official told The Yomiuri Shimbun. North Korea's nominal head of state and senior statesman, 90-year-old Kim Yong Nam, is expected to join her.

According to Seoul based Korea Herald, Cheong Wa Dae, an official from President's palace, on Thursday, described the highlights of the recent rapprochement between the two Koreas facilitated by the North's participation in the Winter Olympic Games.

"She lived in the embassy under an alias with her brother", Michael Madden, a North Korean expert who runs a leadership-watch blog and contributes to Johns Hopkins University's Korean Studies site, told ABC News.

But critics in the South allege the North has been allowed to hijack the Pyeongchang Games, dubbing them the Pyongyang Olympics instead.

"I look forward to reinforcing the important priority that President Trump and the United States places on the relationships with these two nations", Pence said during a refueling stop on his way to Japan.

Pyongyang on Wednesday also proposed sending Kim Jong Un's sister Kim Yo Jong, who serves as the first vice director of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK).

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Seoul has said the delegation is due to arrive on Friday.

Kim's government said it now has the capability of launching a rocket that could strike the USA mainland.

"This parade will show the world that we have a strong military power", said Kim in his speech from a high podium in Kim Il Sung Square, which takes its name from his grandfather, North Korea's first leader.

But their arrival has sparked debate about whether they are a propaganda tool to buy more time for North Korea to consolidate its growing nuclear arsenal.

Hong, the analyst, said Kim Yo Jong's presence would give North Korea a better opportunity to win South Korean help in reaching out to the United States.

Tanks, missile launchers, armoured vehicles, artillery pieces and up to 13,000 soldiers are marching for Kim Jong-un in a display of might to the West.

Celebrations had originally been scheduled for 25 April, but North Korea moved the date up.

And Pence's personal guest at the games will be Fred Warmbier, the father of Otto Warmbier, an American who died previous year days after his release from captivity in North Korea.

After the raising of the flag, the mass march kicked off with an inspection by North Korea's generals and singing.

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