North Korea isn't interested in talking to the U.S. at the Olymp - KTVQ.com | Q2 | Continuous News Coverage | Billings, MT

North Korea isn't interested in talking to the U.S. at the Olympics

Posted: Updated:

North Korea won't be talking to the U.S. delegation on the sidelines of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

Jo Yong Sam, department director general of North Korea's foreign ministry, said the country had never "begged the U.S. for dialogue" and wasn't about to start now, according to state-run news agency KCNA Thursday.

"We have no intention to meet the U.S. side during our visit to South Korea," Jo said, on the eve of the Opening Ceremony in South Korea Friday night.

Jo's comments follow mixed signals from the U.S. about its willingness to talk. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence appeared to leave the door open for negotiations earlier this week when he said, "I haven't requested any meeting. But we'll see what happens."

The Vice President followed that with threats to impose some of the "toughest and most aggressive" economic sanctions ever against North Korea in a bid to end its nuclear and ballistic missile program "once and for all."

North Korea's delegation is being led by Kim Yong Nam, one of North Korea's most powerful politicians.

His presence, along with Kim Jong Un's sister, Kim Yo Jong, had caused some observers to hope for a diplomatic breakthrough while the two North Koreans are in close proximity to their U.S. and South Korean counterparts.

Diplomatic sources with deep knowledge of North Korea's activities told CNN that despite outwardly positive signs and indications of a "charm offensive" from Pyongyang, what's "unclear and bizarre" is there has not been any diplomatic movement shown by North Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs in line with current events.

Sources told CNN that sending of ceremonial head of state Kim Yong Nam and Kim's sibling Kim Yo Jong reads as more of a symbolic act than any concrete diplomatic initiative by North Korea.

Since diplomatic efforts are "almost zero," sources said this may signal a "calm before the storm," with North Korea quietly preparing its next moves for after the Olympics while the global spotlight shines on its delegation in South Korea.

Delegation diplomacy

Before departing for Asia, Pence, who is leading his country's Olympic delegation, fueled speculation of a potential meeting by telling reporters that he had not ruled out meeting with the North Koreans on the sidelines in Pyeongchang.

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. Better for its own people, better for the region, and better for peace."

However, since arriving in the region, Pence has taken a more strident tone, saying American "resolve" had not wavered in bringing international pressure against Pyongyang.

"We're traveling to the Olympics to make sure that North Korea doesn't use the powerful symbolism and the backdrop of the Winter Olympics to paper over the truth about their regime," Pence said.

For its part, South Korea has welcomed the presence of Kim's sister in the delegation, saying it "shows (Pyongyang's) willingness to ease tensions on the Korean peninsula along with a message of celebration."

"It is significant that the delegation also includes Kim Yo Jong, who is Chairman Kim Jong Un's sister and holds an important position in the Workers' Party of Korea," the country's Unification Ministry said in a statement.

Military might

The world may get a preview of North Korea's post-Olympics plans at a grand military parade in Pyongyang Thursday, one the eve of the Olympic Opening Ceremony.

Nonproliferation experts said during Thursday's parade it's possible Pyongyang could show some mock-ups of their newer technology, like a new long-range, solid-fueled ballistic missile.

A diplomatic source told CNN the event is expected to include of "hundreds" of missiles and rockets in an attempt "to scare the hell out of the Americans."

Experts also previously predicted North Korea will soon resume its missile and nuclear testing, possibly even including an above-ground atomic test over the Pacific.

"They're too close to the end of the program to simply stop and give up," Rodger Baker, vice president of strategic analysis at Stratfor, told CNN.

Powered by Frankly

© KTVQ.com 2018, KTVQ.com
All rights reserved
Privacy Policy, | Terms of Service, and Ad Choices

Can't find something?