Kim Jong-Un's Sister To Visit South Korea In Historic First

Bitter cold affecting athletes, gear at Winter Olympics

Bitter cold affecting athletes, gear at Winter Olympics

The sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will cross the border to South Korea for the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics on Friday in what will be an historic visit.

En route to Japan, Pence declined to rule out a meeting with the North Korean delegation also attending the opening ceremony, offering the faintest hope of a diplomatic breakthrough.

The US is preparing to announce the "toughest and most aggressive" economic sanctions against North Korea, boosting pressure on the regime during the Winter Olympics, Mike Pence has said.

Iran's foreign ministry summoned South Korea's envoy on Thursday to denounce the decision to deny its athletes cellphones, and warned that if Samsung did not apologize, "This will heavily affect relations with Samsung", Iran state TV reported.

Skeptics say the North's outreach to the South over the Olympics is an attempt at weakening US -led sanctions and pressure against the country and at buying more time to advance its nuclear weapons and missiles development.

Experts say it's likely North Korea will continue to ignore U.S. demands for it to halt its nuclear and missile programs.

The North's high-level delegation for the Olympics is being led by Kim Yong Nam, the highest-level official ever to visit the South, and also includes Kim Jong Un's sister Kim Yo Jong - an increasingly powerful and influential figure.

Kim Jong Un might also have seen that U.S. President Donald Trump was sending his daughter, Ivanka, to the Olympics closing ceremony and chose to match the move by sending his sister, said Hong Min, an analyst at Seoul's Korea Institute for National Unification.

Pence told reporters: "We'll comment on any issues affecting White House staff when we get back to Washington". "This is simply a matter of allowing the North Koreans to participate in an Olympics in which they've basically not qualified".

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Analysts said the parade seemed smaller than those of previous years, but was still focused on the North's goal of strengthening its nuclear missile capabilities.

Another delegation member, sports official Choe Hwi, could present a diplomatic headache as he is subject to a travel ban under United Nations sanctions.

"We have destroyed the enemy's risk-taking provocations at every move", Kim Jong Un said in a speech.

The easing of tensions that has come with détente between North and South Korea may hit a bump in the road on Thursday, when Pyongyang holds a large-scale military parade.

Both Japan and South Korea are considered cornerstones of USA security and economic relationships in Asia.

In this image made from video by North Korea's KRT, a military parade is held in Pyongyang, North Korea Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018.

"Her trip will create a media frenzy, stealing the show from Vice President Pence who wants to highlight the North's human rights abuses and sanctions-defying nuclear drive", he said.

The North Korean roster of visiting dignitaries has been complicated by the fact that two of them face sanctions, which have been imposed in an effort to punish the communist state for its nuclear weapons program. But North Korea fiercely rejected the accusations, defending its right to celebrate its military. "That's promoting Kim Jong Un and North Korea's ideology". But Pence is trying to keep the focus on North Korea's threatening behavior and continue to pressure the regime with sanctions.

While tanks and trucks carrying intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) rolled down the streets in Pyongyang, in the South Korean city of Gangneung, North Korea's cheerleading band performed at a welcoming ceremony armed only with musical instruments.

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