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North Korea: No interest in meeting with US at Olympics

North Korea: No interest in meeting with US at Olympics
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High-level North Korean officials attending this month's Winter Olympic Games in South Korea say they are not willing to meet with U.S. envoys during the games despite Vice President Pence's statements indicating that U.S. officials would be ready to talk.

South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reported Thursday that North Korean officials said they "don't have a willingness" to meet with the U.S. delegation, led by Pence, during the Olympics.

"We have never begged for dialogue with the U.S. and [it] will be the same in the future," a North Korean official representing the country's foreign minister said.

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"We clearly state that we don't have a willingness to meet with the U.S. side during our visit to South Korea," according to the report.

Pence appeared to leave the door open to talks between the two nations during the games in comments to reporters at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska on Tuesday. 

"President TrumpDonald John TrumpKey takeaways from the Arizona Senate debate Major Hollywood talent firm considering rejecting Saudi investment money: report Mattis says he thought 'nothing at all' about Trump saying he may leave administration MORE has said he always believes in talking, but I haven’t requested any meetings," Pence said. "But we’ll see what happens."

Tensions between the U.S. and North Korea have flared for months over repeated tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles by North Korea, as well as the country's nuclear weapons program, which experts believe includes weapons that will soon be advanced enough to reach the continental United States.

Before his departure for South Korea, Pence told reporters that the Trump administration's message remained the same: that the North must abandon its nuclear weapons program as a prerequisite to talks over ending sanctions or extending diplomatic relations.

"My message – whatever the setting, whoever is present – will be the same," Pence said Tuesday. "And that is that North Korea must once and for all abandon its nuclear weapons program and ballistic missile ambitions."

North Korea was not initially expected to attend the Winter Olympics, but talks with South Korea resulted in the North's participation in the Games. Athletes from North and South Korea will also march under a unification flag during the opening ceremonies.