Friday, 21 September, 2018

South Korean president to meet Kim Jong Un's sister during Olympics

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence speaks with a Japanese Ground Self Defense Force officer as he inspects PAC-3 missile interceptors with Japan's Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera at the Defense Ministry in Tokyo Japan Pence says the US is about to hit North Korea with the 'toughest and most aggressive' sanctions yet
Faye Gross | 09 February, 2018, 03:49

A 137-strong North Korean orchestra held its first performance in South Korea in 18 year, serenading hundreds with familiar tunes from both sides of the border as well as Western music.

Pyongyang last month announced it was changing the date of its military commemoration from April 25 to February 8 - the day before the Games' opening ceremony in Pyeongchang, just 80 kilometres south of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that divides the peninsula. Similarly, a joint Korean women's hockey team will not wear uniforms made by Nike, an Olympic sponsor and US company, due to concerns about the sanctions. Those from North Korea will be asked to "only use them during their stay in PyeongChang", the International Olympic Committee added.

Since the 2005 event, North Korea has not sent a cheerleading squad to South Korea.

The event is understood to have lasted for about an hour and was spotted by South Korea intelligence officials on satellite.

"We will not make use of sports festivities such as the Winter Olympics for political purposes", he was quoted as saying. He met with Abe at his official residence to discuss increasing pressure on the North.

The North Koreans are planning to perform popular South Korean songs, in addition to North Korean music, according to Chosun TV.

Interested in North Korea?

Shahrokh Shahnazi sent separate letters to IOC, South Korea's National Olympic Committee and the country's ambassador to Tehran to follow up Samsung's anti-Olympics measure.

Al Jazeera's Natasha Ghoneim, reporting from the South Korean city of Gangneung, said Kim may have opted to take the more low-key route this year because of the timing of the parade.

To allow the ship to travel to the South, Seoul treated it as an exception to sanctions.

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While the main organiser of the Olympics said the display would not affect the "dynamics" of the event, the United States had said it would prefer the North did not go ahead with it.

"There may be a possibility for any kind of an encounter with North Koreans", whether informal or a meeting, he said Thursday before leaving Japan.

But the event organizers have announced that the North Korean and Iranian athletes at the Winter Olympics will not receive high-end smartphones because of existing United Nations sanctions.

The special edition Samsung Galaxy Note 8 smartphone for Olympians. Its price starts at about $1,000.

"The athletes didn't receive phones when they arrived in [South] Korea". They are expected to be implemented before the conclusion of the games. But the organizer decided not to give out the devices, rather than risking violating sanctions.

Earlier Thursday Cho Yong Sam, a senior Pyongyang foreign ministry official, was quoted as saying the North had "no intention" of meeting U.S. authorities during the trip.

US Vice President Mike Pence, who described North Korea as the world's most tyrannical regime on Wednesday, flies in to South Korea on Thursday - a day before the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un arrives at Incheon International Airport.

Pence had not explicitly ruled out the possibility of contact with the North Korean delegation, simply saying on Monday that the US had not sought out a meeting but remained open to "see what happens". Pence is to attend Friday's opening ceremony with Fred Warmbier, the father of an American who died after he was imprisoned in North Korea, The Washington Post reports.

Mr Moon's spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom said the North Korean delegates will attend the opening ceremony of the Games on Friday evening. US intelligence reportedly believes North Korea has between 20 and 50 nuclear warheads in its inventory. However, the U.S. Treasury Department previous year included Kim Yo Jong on its list of blacklisted officials over her position as vice director of the ruling Workers' Party's Propaganda and Agitation Department.

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