North Korean leader's sister to come to South for Olympics

Bitter cold affecting athletes, gear at Winter Olympics

Bitter cold affecting athletes, gear at Winter Olympics

The event will also see the presence of Vice President Mike Pence, who invited the father of Otto Warmbier, the American student who suffered brain damage while detained in North Korea and died shortly after being returned in a comatose state to the USA last year, to join him at the ceremony.

Almost 300 North Koreans crossed the Demilitarized Zone between the two countries on Wednesday to participate in the Olympics, including 229 women that were part of a large "cheering squad", The Washington Post reported.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's younger sister, Kim Yo-jong, is blacklisted under United States sanctions. Moon has looked to the games as an opportunity to pursue a diplomatic opening with the North - a move Pence cautioned against.

The North Korean delegation will be headed by its ceremonial head of state, Kim Yong Nam, 90, the president of the Supreme People's Assembly, and the most senior official to ever cross the border.

"We have no intention to meet the U.S. side during our visit to South Korea", Jo said in a terse statement reported by state-run news agency KCNA. He added his hope that it becomes "a venue that leads to dialogue for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula".

Only Kim Yong Nam, President of the Presidium of the DPRK's Supreme People's Assembly, will participate in a reception before the opening ceremony hosted by Moon, who will then meet the full delegation for lunch on Saturday.

North Korea's parade on Thursday was held for the 70th anniversary of the founding of its armed forces.

In a statement on Thursday, the International Olympic Committee said it would provide the phones to all participating athletes.

Aides acknowledged that the hard-nosed message is an unusual one for the affable Pence, but said the circumstances warrant the tone.

USA officials declined to offer details on the expected new sanctions beyond Pence's comments, citing concerns that any additional information could be used by those trying to skirt the new measures.

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".

Sources told South Korea outlet Yonhap that Pyongyang held the parade on Thursday, one day before the world gathers at South Korea's Pyeongchang to celebrate the opening of the winter games. Jo Yong Sam, department director general of North Korea's foreign ministry, said on Thursday the country had never "begged the United States for dialogue" and wasn't about to start now. In a speech there, Pence said the US wants to "make sure North Korea doesn't use the powerful symbolism in the backdrop of the [Games] to paper over the truth about their regime".

In 1988 Summer Games organizers in Seoul, South Korea, invited the communist government of the North to send a team of competitors.

With determined rhetoric - and the promise of more "aggressive" economic sanctions against the North - Pence is looking to refocus American allies on the North Korean threat.

But his comments did not rule out a meeting - and nor has US Vice President Mike Pence, who is due in the South on Thursday.

But instead of broadcasting the morning event live, North Korean television aired an edited version later in the day, giving it a somewhat lower profile than expected.

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