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North Korea's Winter Olympians denied their Samsung goody bags

North Korea's Winter Olympians denied their Samsung goody bags”

North Korea has no intention to meet USA officials during the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in the South, state media said on Thursday as Pyongyang made a show of strength with a military parade a day ahead of the opening ceremony.

After a year of escalating rhetoric between the Pyongyang and Washington, tensions on the Korean peninsula have eased after the North's leader Kim Jong Un said in a New Year's address he was willing to open discussions with Seoul.

Some observers have suggested that the North is trying to drive a wedge between South Korea and its American ally.Pence, who will lead the USA delegation, has vowed to prevent Kim from "hijacking the message and imagery" of the Olympics.

Both Kim Yong Nam, the North's ceremonial head of state, who is leading its delegation, and Mr Pence are due to attend the opening ceremony in Pyeongchang on Friday. The problem? Sanctions. "North Korean and Iranian athletes will be excluded because of existing United Nations sanctions" against the two countries, a PyeongChang organizing committee spokeswoman told Agence France-Presse.

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Pence spoke Thursday to USA service members at Yokota Air Base in Japan after touring joint US and Japanese operations centers that monitor and react to crises on the peninsula and the region at large. "Our delegation's visit to South Korea is only to take part in the Olympics and hail its successful holding". Abe and Pence discussed the importance of a trilateral partnership with South Korea in a meeting Wednesday.

Analysts have said that with the dual approach, North Korea is looking to normalize its status as a "de facto nuclear state", and could be trying to weaken sanctions against it or drive a wedge between South Korea and its ally, the US.

Kaesong will be discussed "when the North Korean nuclear issue has to some extent entered a phase of a resolution", the ministry said.

South Korean tours to the Mt Kumgang resort were closed after a South Korean tourist was shot by a North Korean guard there in 2008. "We will not allow North Korea to hide behind the Olympic banner the reality that they enslave their people and threaten the wider region".

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North Korea reportedly prioritizes height, with only women taller than 165 centimeters able to join the squad. Similarly, a joint Korean women's hockey team will not wear uniforms made by Nike, an Olympic sponsor and USA company, due to concerns about the sanctions. The South hosts 28,500 USA troops, a legacy of the war.

The parade was reportedly smaller than recent years and the footage showed Kim Jong-un inspecting troops, alongside his wife Ri Sol-ju. Kim Jong Un told the crowd that the parade displayed North Korea's might as a "global military power".

Ties are likely to be further strained by the presence of Kim Yo-jung, the younger sister of the North Korean leader. He did not mention the United States, which North Korea considers its main enemy and regularly threatens to destroy in a sea of flames.

Live footage posted online showed a much less grand affair than the parade in April previous year to mark the 105th birthday of the country's founding father Kim Il-sung.

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In Washington, the Pentagon said it was moving forward with suggestions on a USA military parade requested by President Donald Trump.



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