Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang

Bitter cold affecting athletes, gear at Winter Olympics
Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang
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10 February, 2018

The delegation is due to have lunch with the South Korean President Moon Jae-in tomorrow, after arriving by plane today, Seoul's presidential Blue House said.

The nuclear-armed North is on an Olympics-linked charm offensive - sending a troupe of performers, hundreds of female cheerleaders, and the sister of leader Kim Jong Un to South Korea.

"I think if North Korea wanted to be reasonable with something like this, they wouldn't be holding a parade the day before the Olympics", Cotton says.

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.

Pence says the objective of his trip is to ensure the North can't "hijack" the games, and his schedule includes symbolic events created to highlight North Korea's human rights abuses and nuclear program.

The sentiments about North Korea's participation in the South Korea-hosted Winter Games are not being shared across the political spectrum.

South Korea hopes the Games will be an opportunity to re-engage with the North and open the way for talks to resolve one of the world's most risky crises.

Experts said by sending a youthful, photogenic person who will undoubtedly attract global attention during the games, North Korea is trying to construct a fresher and warmer public image and defuse potential US efforts to use the Olympics to highlight the North's brutal human rights record.

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

Pence told reporters that despite disagreements over how to approach North Korea, the state of the alliance between the US and South Korea is "strong". Pence called the alliance "unshakeable". But North Korea fiercely rejected the accusations, defending its right to celebrate its military. He plans to stress the need for a trilateral partnership with the U.S.in order to continue exerting pressure on North Korea.

"We have never begged for dialogue with the United States and it will be the same going forward", it reported, citing Cho Yong Sam, director-general of the North American department of North Korea's foreign ministry.

If that's the case, it may already be paying off for Kim Jong Un.

Others have suggested that the decision to not broadcast the parade live - it was recorded and shown later in the day - was evidence that the North was trying to keep a lower profile.

The parade was reportedly held to commemorate the 70th anniversary of founding of the country's armed forces, according to South Korea's Yonhap News, but it also marks a display of power mere hours before the North is expected to march under a unified flag with the delegation from South Korea.

Markus Schiller, a weapons expert with ST Analytics in Munich, said the nine-axle trucks carrying the Hwasong-15 missiles looked like extensions of eight-axle units, suggesting the regime was in short supply.


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