South Korea's President Moon to meet Kim Jong Un's sister at Olympics

Bitter cold affecting athletes, gear at Winter Olympics

South Korea's President Moon to meet Kim Jong Un's sister at Olympics

With tensions higher than usual towards the end of past year amid concerns over North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's nuclear intentions, the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics has provided a platform to thaw frosty relations.

On Friday, before he attends the Olympic opening ceremony, Pence will visit a memorial for 46 South Korean sailors killed in the 2010 sinking of a warship that Seoul blamed on a North Korean torpedo attack.

"With regard to any interaction with the North Korean delegation, I have not requested a meeting, but we'll see what happens", Pence told reporters in Japan.

A high-ranking delegation of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) will come to South Korea by plane to attend the 23rd Winter Olympics, Seoul's unification ministry said Thursday.

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.

"There are no plans to do so", she told reports.

High-profile North Korean officials including Hwang Pyong So, Choe Ryong Hae and the late Kim Yang Gon visited the South in October 2014 to attend the closing ceremony of the 17th Asian Games in Incheon.

That position - relatively dovish considering the fierce sabre rattling against Kim by President Donald Trump late past year - had been in place since Pyongyang announced in January that it was sending a delegation to the Games.

And while Ms Yo-jong's inclusion is likely to irritate the US, South Korea welcomed the announcement, saying it was "significant that Kim had included his sister in the delegation".

On Thursday, around 50-100 protesters staged a small, noisy demonstration outside the Gangneung Art Center where a North Korean orchestral concert was taking place.

Another delegation member, sports official Choe Hwi, could present a diplomatic headache as he is subject to a travel ban under United Nations sanctions. "But it also needed do tone down its rhetoric and actions as a peace initiative toward South Korea during the Olympics".

She is also said to oversee the regime's propaganda department.

Her visit is widely seen as a further attempt to ease tension with South Korea.

While Choe is the only member of the North Korean delegation blacklisted by the Security Council, South Korea asked the sanctions committee for broad approval to host the entire high-level delegation from Pyongyang between February 9 and 11, according to the request seen by Reuters on Wednesday.

But sceptics think the North is trying to use the Olympics to weaken US-led sanctions and pressure against the country and buy more time to advance its nuclear weapons and missiles programme.

However, North Korea also held a massive military parade in Pyongyang on Thursday, raising suspicions in the South over the sudden rapprochement, which follows a series of weapons tests.

Pence said President Donald Trump "always believes in talking", adding that North Korea "can have a better future than the militaristic path, the path of provocation and confrontation that it's on".

Celebrations had originally been scheduled for 25 April, but North Korea moved the date up.

Kim Yo-jong would be the first member of the Kim family, born on the sacred Mount Paektu, which is a centrepiece of the North's idolization and propaganda campaign, to cross the border to the South. He did not mention the United States, which North Korea considers its main enemy and regularly threatens to destroy in a sea of flames.

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