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North Korea has ruled out the possibility of talks with the United States during the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea, the North's official media reported on Thursday. -North Korea tensions. Officials say Pence will be holding symbolic events of his own to highlight the North's human rights abuses and nuclear ambitions.

North Korea's nominal head of state and senior statesman, 90-year-old Kim Yong Nam, is expected to join her. Aides say the vice president is advancing a counter message, using the games as an opportunity for the South and the broader global community to exert what President Donald Trump has termed "maximum pressure" against the North.

He also said Pyongyang would not be allowed to "hijack" the Games in Pyeongchang to distract the world from its military build-up and nuclear weapons programmes.

Mattis also said the situation with North Korea is "firmly in the diplomatic lane", a reminder the United States has postponed joint exercises with the South for the duration of the games.

The White House has given no hint that's in the cards. At the same time, the vice president has deliberately left the door open to a possible encounter with North Korean officials expected to be in attendance.

North Korea already is facing unprecedented sanctions after three U.N. Security Council restrictions in the past year that have slashed the pariah nation's export revenue and capped fuel imports.

"We'll be ensuring that whatever cooperation that's existing between North and South Korea today on Olympic teams does not cloud the reality of a regime that must continue to be isolated by the world community".

In Japan, he will meet with Prime Minster Shinzo Abe and US service members.

Pence arrives in Seoul on Thursday for meetings with President Moon Jae-in just as South Korea seizes on the games for a diplomatic opening with the North, including the first visit of North Korea's ruling family since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.

When asked by reporters if he would be willing to have some sort of interaction, Pence had said "we'll see what happens". His first stop was in Alaska to visit a U.S. anti-ballistic missile base where another 20 ground-based interceptor missiles are due to be deployed.

North Korea's ceremonial leader Kim Yong Nam and Kim Yo Jong, the younger sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, are planning to attend the opening ceremony on Friday.

Pence departs Monday for Asia to lead the USA delegation to the Winter Olympics.

Pence is on a six-day trip to Japan and South Korea. The White House cast the meeting as part of the Trump administration's "maximum pressure" campaign to counter the North Korean nuclear program.

Abe echoed Pence's comments through a translator, urging countries "not to be lured by the charm offensive of North Korea". Skeptics say the North's outreach to the South over the Olympics is an attempt at weakening USA -led sanctions and pressure against the country and at buying more time to advance its nuclear weapons and missiles development.

"If Trump does not get rid of his anachronistic and dogmatic way of thinking, it will only bring about the outcome of further endangering security and future of the United States", the government said in comments carried by the North's official Korean Central News Agency.

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