World

N Korea says no plans to meet US officials at Olympics

Pyongyang official dampens hopes for resolving tense stand-off

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA: North Korea has no intention of meeting US officials during the Winter Olympics that start in South Korea today, state media reported, dampening hopes the Games will help resolve a tense stand-off over the North's nuclear weapons programme.

US Vice-President Mike Pence, who described North Korea as the world's most tyrannical regime on Wednesday, flew in to South Korea yesterday ahead of the opening ceremony in the mountain resort of Pyeongchang.

The ceremony will also be attended by a senior delegation of North Korean officials, including the younger sister of leader Kim Jong Un and the North's nominal head of state, Kim Yong Nam.

The sister, Kim Yo Jong, and other members of her entourage will travel by private jet to Seoul's Incheon International Airport this afternoon, North Korea informed the South yesterday.

However the prospect of talks, which Mr Pence downplayed but left open, appeared slim, reported Reuters.

"We have never begged for dialogue with the US nor in the future, too," the North's KCNA news agency reported yesterday, citing Jo Yong Sam, director-general of the North American department of North Korea's foreign ministry.

"Explicitly speaking, we have no intention to meet with the US side during the stay in South Korea... Our delegation's visit to South Korea is only to take part in the Olympics and hail its successful holding," Jo said.

South Korea wants to use the event to re-engage with North Korea and open the way for talks to resolve one of the world's most dangerous crises, in which US President Donald Trump and Pyongyang have swapped nuclear threats.

Yesterday, President Moon Jae In urged China to lend a hand in facilitating Washington-Pyongyang talks, saying Seoul and Beijing share the goal of a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.

WORLD