White House says US will take part in Winter Olympics

WASHINGTON White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has said the United States looks forward to participating in the Winter Olympics in South Korea in February, after questions arose about security in light of North Korea ramping up its weapons testing.

"The US looks forward to participating in the Winter Olympics in South Korea," Mrs Sanders wrote in a tweet.

"The protection of Americans is our top priority, and we are engaged with the South Koreans and other partner nations to secure the venues."

On Wednesday, the US' Ambassador to the United Nations, Ms Nikki Haley, appeared to cast doubt on the country's participation. In an interview with Fox News, she said: "There is an open question. I have not heard anything about that.

"But I do know that in the talks that we have... it is always about how do we protect the US citizens in the area."

The US Olympic Committee responded on Thursday, saying plans to compete in the Winter Olympics has not changed.

Pyeongchang, the venue for next year's Winter Olympics is approximately 80km from the demilitarised zone dividing North and South Korea.

Prior to her tweet, when asked at the regular White House press briefing, Mrs Sanders said "no official decision has been made" about participation and the decision would come closer to the Games' start date.

She also said the decision would be reached through a process involving multiple agencies, where President Donald Trump would "certainly weigh in". - AFP