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North Korea has no intention of meeting USA officials during the Winter Olympics that start on Friday, the KCNA news agency reported, presenting a "protocol headache" for those planning seating arrangements at the opening ceremony.

Korea's Joongang Ilbo suggests that adding her to the already "massive" North Korean delegation expected to be in PyeongChang for Olympics Opening Ceremonies on Friday could be "a possible sign of better ties ahead".

Senior Pyongyang foreign ministry official Cho Yong Sam said the North had "no intention" of meeting US authorities during the trip.

"We will not allow North Korea to hide behind the Olympic banner the reality that they enslave their people and threaten the wider region", he said.

Pence told reporters that despite disagreements over how to approach North Korea, the state of the alliance between the USA and South Korea is "strong".

He dismissed suggestions that North Korea's diplomatic overtures could undermine Washington's alliance with the South as well as efforts to pressure Kim Jong-un to abandon the country's nuclear and missile programmes.

On Wednesday, the North announced that Kim Yo Jong, the sister of dictator Kim Jong-un, would attend the games, joining the country's nominal head of state, Kim Yong Nam.

A total of 22 North Korean athletes are to participate in the Games and they plan to march with South Korean athletes under a "unification flag" during the opening ceremony.

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News reports said 4,000 of the latest $1,100 Samsung smartphones were being given to athletes attending the Winter Games, but athletes from Iran and North Korea would be excluded because of sanctions against the two countries.

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Knapper said United States officials had been working with their South Korean counterparts "on things like seating charts" and added that Washington's main goal was for the Games to be a success.

In this May 10, 2016, photo, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, right, and his sister Kim Yo Jong watch a military parade at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang.

Pence said his message about North Korea would be the same, "whatever the setting, whoever is present".

The Korean Herald wrote in an editorial on Thursday that the 1988 Seoul Olympics had laid the groundwork for South Korea to establish official ties with Russian Federation and China, and geopolitics was playing a big part again at PyeongChang. "But we'll see what happens".

Asked if war with North Korea is closer than when Trump took office a year ago, Mattis said US policy is "firmly in the diplomatic lane", as shown by agreement among world powers to increase sanctions.

As he warns the world against falling for North Korea's diplomatic overtures around the Winter Olympics, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence tells American service members to "be vigilant".

The North also held a military parade with tanks and tens of thousands of troops in its capital Thursday to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of its military.

The Associated Press reported that a committee of the United Nations Security Council on Thursday (Friday NZT) proposed granting an exemption for blacklisted senior official Choe Hwi, the chairman of North Korea's National Sports Guidance Committee, to travel on Friday (Saturday NZT). The parade did not appear to include North Korea's full arsenal of missiles.

Kim Yo Jong and Kim Jong Un were born to the same mother, Ko Yong Hui. But Pence is trying to keep the focus on North Korea's threatening behavior and continue to pressure the regime with sanctions.

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